One of the largest gaps in childhood hunger in Central Florida is food resources for teens. Hungry students are less likely to focus on their education and more likely to have behavioral problems, lower academic achievement and experience mental health issues.
Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is working with local schools and community organizations to alleviate teen hunger with School Market partnerships. School Markets provide free snacks, meal items and fresh produce to students attending medium-to-high need schools without question of need or eligibility.
With the support of Walt Disney World, Second Harvest added a new component to the School Market program for the 2018-19 school year. Named the Teen Nutrition Team, these students lead peer-to-peer nutrition education efforts at their high school.
At Jones High School, Fritz Seardon and Jessica Thomas are members of the Teen Nutrition Team. They work together to design games and other activities to engage their peers in conversations about nutrition and prepare a food demo on different fruits, vegetables or healthy recipes each month.
“The people around me are eating healthier, so they can live longer and I can be with them longer,” explains Fritz.
Jessica likes to ask people what kinds of food they like and then try to broaden their horizons. “Sometimes we have different foods for sampling that they haven’t had before,” she explains. She finds a lot of satisfaction in helping students try new foods and understanding how easily accessible they are, whether at the grocery store or at the school market.
Learn more about the School Market program and Teen Nutrition Team at www.feedhopenow.org/schoolmarket. The Teen Nutrition Team is currently recruiting students for the 2019-20 school year from Jones, Oak Ridge and Osceola High Schools. Apply online.