A school food bank program that feeds kids at 65 schools throughout Central Florida just got a major boost.

Insurance provider Aetna donated more than $100,000 dollars to support the work of Second Harvest’s School Partnerships Program, which feeds students at 65 schools in six counties.

Schools can use the money to set up a food pantry, grocery store, or any other program that provides food to students and their families during the school year.

Second Harvest CEO Derrick Chubbs said the best part about the program is, “it’s not a cookie cutter type of program. You’ll go into one school, you’ll see it run one way. You go into another school, they will be a little bit different.”

At Evans High School in Pine Hills where the grant was announced, students run their own grocery store.

Kids can pick up any items their families might need for free, while getting tips on healthy eating and cooking.

Kelly Astro is with the Children’s Home Society of Florida. She helps implement these programs at schools including at Evans. She says it’s been fun working with kids to figure out creative ways to prepare fall produce like acorn squash.

Astro said there can be a lot of stigma around asking for help, especially amongst young people.

“This makes it very easy. What we really wanted to do is to provide a place that was safe, and where students could come in with dignity, and be able to shop if you will, for those food items that their family needs,” said Astro.

According to Second Harvest, one in five children in Central Florida is food-insecure.

Find the food bank nearest you by using Second Harvest’s food locator tool.

Originally posted by WMFE

By Danielle Prieur