Each program school is provided with a cabinet stocked with emergency food and basic hygiene items, and is restocked weekly by volunteers. When a teacher identifies a student in need, the family can be provided with food and valuable community resource information. The project is simple, and the process to help the student is kept completely confidential.
The Love Pantry places emergency food in the schools – and into the hands of students. Many of the students we serve receive their only nutritious meal(s) of the day at the school cafeteria. Often, their families are facing extremely limited financial resources, and may be homeless, living in a shelter, in a hotel, or in the family car.
Missing meals and experiencing hunger impairs children’s development and achievement. Studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Pediatrics, and the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry document the negative effects of hunger on children’s academic performance and behavior in school. Hungry children have lower math scores. They are more likely to repeat a grade, come to school late, or miss it entirely. [Sources: http://www.nea.org and Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).]
Since the Love Pantry program began in 2011, over eight thousand family members have received food and hygiene items, plus valuable community resource information available in each of the 63 Love Pantry schools. “When I first approached First Baptist Orlando with a funding request for putting a food supply directly into schools, I had no idea the program would be this successful,” commented Executive Director Robert Stuart.