The holidays are here and students are currently on their two-week break. In addition to books and homework, many will also leave behind their free and reduced-priced school-provided meals. For the 1 in 4 children in Central Florida who do not know where their next meal is coming from, the risk of going to bed hungry can be even greater this time of year.
On Saturday, December 16, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florid and Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) Food and Nutrition Services partnered to help ease the burden of hunger for families at eight local schools. In Orange County, 68% of all students qualify for free and reduced-priced meals.
Thanks to generous support from CarMax, Publix Supermarkets and First United Methodist Church, this year the holiday drop added new locations and provided more food to families in need. Each family received fresh produce, canned and dry items, baked good and a whole turkey!
Denise recalls arriving early at Forsyth Woods Middle School. It was before 8 a.m. and the distribution wasn’t scheduled to begin until 10 a.m., but one man was already waiting.
“I came early because I want to help out,” he said. Even though he was in need himself and planned to take food home to his family, he found joy in serving others. He was not about to miss that opportunity at the holiday drop.
Meanwhile across town at Oak Ridge High School, Melissa encountered a family that has taken in relatives from Puerto Rico. They came to the event hoping to take home a meal for their larger than normal household this holiday season. Throughout the morning, there were continuous moments of gladness as volunteers packed bags of hope for families in need into their cars.
For all the sites combined, we served a total of 2250 families. Thanks to this team effort, these families went home with one less thing to worry about this holiday season.