June starts a new venture at Second Harvest Food Bank as school ends and the Summer Feeding Program begins. Thanks to partnerships within the community, for the first time ever, the Darden Foundation Community Kitchen will be supplying 38 feeding sites with healthy, wholesome meals from our very own Production Kitchen!
Using refrigerated trucks, deliveries will be made daily to day cares, summer camps, and other programs for children all summer long to provide delicious meals into low-income areas. This means providing hunger relief to thousands of Central Florida kids at a time when too many families struggle to put enough food on the table without school breakfast and lunch to supplement meals.
Something also new this year is a mobile unit that will deliver meals to mobile home parks and apartment complexes, helping meet the need of those kids who are unable to attend summer camps or other programs. This new mobile unit will help reach children that are often times left home to take care of themselves, and have very little access to summer meal sites.
In addition to the 38 sites that will be served from the meals produced from our Production Kitchen, Second Harvest Food Bank has partnered with Meals on Wheels again this year to serve 18-20 additional sites through Brevard, Seminole, and other rural Orange County areas typically known as food deserts. This partnership helps reach children that are out of the traditional delivery range for most programs, either due to school districts or programs unable to provide service because of low enrollment.
Though over 60% of Central Florida kids qualify for free or reduced lunch, only about 9%ⱡ of those kids participate in the summer feeding program. That is still too many kids at risk of being hungry and not having the adequate nutrition required for a child to grow big and strong. Thanks to the addition of our production kitchen and mobile unit, over 4,000 meals will be going out into our community daily to meet this need, in addition to over 2,000 meals daily from our partner Meals on Wheels to under-served areas. We are making big strides to meeting this gap, thanks to your support and the support of our Central Florida community.
Unfortunately, there are still too many kids not getting the meals they need. You can help kids be kids this summer, though, by starting a virtual food drive. Find out more information at www.feedhopenow.org/summerhope. Together with you and community partners we will close the gap on hunger for kids in our community. No kid should have to spend their summer vacation with the stress of having enough to eat, and with over 6,400 meals going out into our community daily, we are well on our way of meeting that goal.
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ⱡ Typically, only 9 percent of the region’s students who are eligible for the federally funded meals when school is in session take advantage of free-food sites during the summer months. Nationally, the figure is about 17 percent. (Orlando sentinel) – http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/education/os-summer-food-school-kids-20150522-story.html