October 16th, nations around the globe recognized World Food Day. Observed annually, this day is dedicated to raising awareness about global hunger, promoting food security, and advocating for sustainable agriculture and nutrition.
Did you know? Today, 1 in 7 Florida children face hunger. Many families are just one job loss or unexpected medical bill away from struggling to put food on the table. This can have a significant impact on a child’s growth and development, resulting in higher hospitalization rates and increased risks of health issues like anemia and asthma. And as they grow up, these kids have a tougher time in school and social situations. They are more likely to repeat a grade, experience difficulties with language and motor skills, and have more social and behavioral challenges – this can affect them for the rest of their lives.*
The repercussions of food insecurity extend far beyond the dinner table; that’s why Children’s Home Society of Florida partners with other like-minded organizations and community leaders to develop innovative solutions to combat hunger while empowering children and families to reach for success.
Community Partnership Schools Nourish Minds to Fuel Success
Our Community Partnership Schools across Florida are taking proactive measures to support our communities’ unique needs while empowering students and fostering future success.
When children go to school, their job is to learn, but it’s hard to focus in the classroom and reach their full potential when hunger strikes.
From weekly food distributions and fully-stocked food pantries to food lockers, vegetable gardens, cooking carts, nutritional classes and more, Community Partnership Schools address effects of hunger on learning — one bite at a time.
At Miami Southridge Senior High School, weekly food distributions have become a norm, bolstered by biweekly donations from Feeding South Florida. Through the support of local donors, the Rotary Club of Perrine-Cutler Ridge, and the work of dedicated volunteers children and families have access to a variety of healthy foods and feel supported in their journey toward food security.
Homestead Middle School, in partnership with Farm Share, fed nearly 500 families during just one food distribution event! Lines began to form nearly two hours before the event started, highlighting the pressing need for food in the Florida City and Homestead communities.
Two more Community Partnership Schools – Arthur & Polly Mays Conservatory of the Arts and Caribbean K-8 Center – were chosen to participate in the “Be the Change South Florida” initiative, granting their students weekly access to fresh produce in addition to on-site food pantries stocked with essential resources.
South Woods Elementary, A Community Partnership School, with support from Memorial Presbyterian Church, offers families access to a new food pantry through the Food 4 Kids Program. The involvement of church volunteers further demonstrates the power of community collaboration, as they come to the Community Partnership School to serve families in need on pantry operating days.
The impact of these efforts extends beyond food alone. The Webster School’s Community Clothing and Food Pantry, generously funded by CHS board member Doug Wiles and his wife, Doris, exemplify the spirit of community giving.
Community Partnership Schools are not just places of education; they provide support for entire communities, showing the impact that can be achieved when we come together as a community to do GOOD.
Cooking Up Healthy Habits
We’re also providing students and families with the opportunity to participate in cooking classes that focus on both nutritious and cost-effective meals.
At Evans High School, the “Cooking with the HUB” program engages students in learning about healthy eating, equipping them with cooking kits to whip up a delectable, veggie-filled spaghetti dish.
At OCPS Academic Center for Excellence (ACE), kids eagerly embrace the joys of learning about healthy food as they participate in the “Kids in the Kitchen” cooking program.
Community Gardens Cultivate Sustainability and Community Engagement
Garden initiatives at our Community Partnership Schools not only nourish bodies but also cultivate a deeper appreciation for the environment and the importance of sustainable, nutritious food choices among our youngest learners.
The community garden at Mort Elementary, A Community Partnership School, is a thriving hub of greenery and learning. Located on the school grounds, this garden is not only a source of fresh produce but also a valuable educational resource. It even features a courtyard filled with chickens! These feathered friends add an extra layer of engagement for students. Student leaders take an active role in caring for the chickens, learning about environmental sustainability in the process.
In Escambia County, C. A. Weis Elementary School addresses the challenge of getting kids to eat more vegetables and promoting healthy food access for families through their own garden. C.A. Weis Elementary School recognized that many families lacked transportation and resources to buy fresh produce, so the school initiated a multifaceted approach, including students tending their own garden to teach food origins and nutrition. This initiative instills a love for fresh and healthy food among students and families, encouraging healthier eating habits and lifestyle choices.
Looking for Ways to Help Combat Food Insecurity in Your Community?
- Donate to the Community Partnership Schools movement! Turn odds into opportunities for children in under resourced neighborhoods when you support the programs you’ve read about above – and more. Donate here.
- Help a family in need this Thanksgiving by Donating a Thanksgiving Meal Basket! By creating a Thanksgiving basket, you not only provide a warm meal but also a time for parents and children to come together and create lasting memories. Each Thanksgiving basket will be donated to a local family and can be filled with non perishable goods and supplies.
Basket Items may include:
- Gift card to purchase meat & fresh produce
- Festive basket or box
- Holiday plates, napkins & utensils
- Stuffing & cornbread mix
- Instant mashed potatoes
- Canned green beans, corn & yams
- French fried onion
- Cream of mushroom soup
- Cranberry sauce & jars of gravy
- Brown sugar & marshmallows
- Apple cider (non-refrigerated)
- Dessert mix – pumpkin pie filling, cake mix
Items may be dropped off at a local CHS office in your area November 10 – 17, 2023. Contact VolunteersCHS@chsfl.org to coordinate delivery.