November 3, 2017

Fresh Produce for Teens

Author: Erika Spence

Sunshine High School is an alternative learning center for teens in grades 9-12 that allows them to complete high school online and receive a diploma, not a GED. Orange County School District partners with the Accelerated Learning Solutions Charter School organization to provide an alternative pathway to achieving a diploma. Many of the enrolled students are interested in a fast-track to graduation, individualized education tracks, or a flexible learning schedule.

When students first arrive at Sunshine, they have already overcome many barriers to achieving their education. This can range from teenage pregnancy to falling through the public education gap. At enrollment, the average reading level of a student is a fourth or fifth-grade reading level. At graduation, the average reading level increases to at least a ninth-grade reading level. However, there are only so many barriers that can be overcome in education.

In addition to their academic barriers, many students have domestic obstacles that they’re facing. At Sunshine, classes are divided into two sessions: morning session and afternoon session. The flexibility is strategic so that students can work and attend classes, which is almost mandatory for most of these students to support their families. Because of the building arrangements, there is no way for the school to provide hot meals and students were unable to participate in the National School Lunch Program.  Read More …

November 3, 2017

If You Give a Teen a Snack…

Author: Guest Blogger

Inspired by the contemporary children’s classic, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” Cheyanna Johnson, Child Hunger Corps Fellow, explores what happens when teenagers have regular access to snacks and meals.

If you give a teen a snack, feelings of hanger and stomach pains go away for a little while.
When those feelings go away, a teen stays in class instead of the nurse or principal’s office.
When a teen stays in class, they don’t fall behind their peers.
When a teen doesn’t feel left behind, school is a lot more fun.
When a teen enjoys school, their attendance improves.

If you give a teen a meal, they won’t focus on their hunger anymore.
When a teen isn’t focused on hunger, they will be focused and attentive in class.
When a teen is focused and attentive in class, they are prepared to learn.
When a teen is prepared to learn, their grades improve.
When a teen has good grades, their opportunities increase. Read More …

October 17, 2017

A Focus on Healthy Pantries

Author: Guest Blogger

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida has been working hard to contribute to the Central Florida community’s health and wellness. Because food insecurity is one of the leading factors contributing to chronic disease and illness among people who are low income and living in poverty, Second Harvest created the Healthy Pantry Network Coordinator position through a West Orange Healthcare District grant.  While the focus of the grant is on feeding partners within the footprint of the West Orange Health District, all of our agency partners are able and encouraged to contact me for information and guidance to improve the health status of their pantry.

Already St. Andrews Catholic Church has been working closely with me to implement as many health upgrades to their pantry as possible. They’ve been extremely receptive and interested in the nutrition information for their client’s food bags and we’ve been able to communicate about healthier foods for their homeless population too. In addition, they invited UF/IFAS Extension’s Family and Nutrition Program to come out to a food distribution event to provide nutrition education to their clients.

I look forward to being a resource for our partners on health and wellness initiatives.

– Rachel Stankiewitch

October 6, 2017

Some of Our Youngest Hunger Heroes

Author: Erika Spence

The students at Hungerford Elementary School in Eatonville recently donated funds to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, and while that is no small feat for any child, the story behind their donation is even more heartfelt.

Students at Hungerford recently read “Wishtree,” the latest book by award-winning children’s author Katherine Applegate. The story is about an old oak tree that watches over the neighborhood and receives wishes from its residents tied to its branches. Wishes for hope, peace, respect and all sorts of concerns.  Read More …

October 5, 2017

Health & Hunger in Central Florida: A Call to Action

Author: Kelly Quintero

On September 22nd, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida presented the Community Health Needs Assessment in partnership with Florida Hospital and Orlando Health. With more than 100 attendees that included community leaders, executives and elected officials, the report revealed that food insecurity, along with access to care, is key to improving a person’s health and well-being.

Hunger is now seen as a health issue, and food is the best medicine. As such, access to adequate nutrition is now a top priority for the major health systems in Central Florida. This new focus will have a profound impact on our community. Read More …

October 4, 2017

Second Harvest Food Bank Designated as Donation Collection Point for Hurricane Maria Victims

Author: Erika Spence

The Feeding America national network of food banks has designated Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida as an official collection point for non-perishable food donations for Puerto Rico, where millions have been left without power, food and water in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

In addition to food donations, the Food Bank is also asking for monetary donations as it prepares to support a large expected influx of displaced citizens coming to Central Florida from Puerto Rico in the next several weeks. Read More …