Walker Middle School Love Pantry Dedication

Today we dedicated the Love Pantry at Walker Middle School. Wells Fargo is sponsoring the Love Pantry as part of their commitment to the community and in conjunction with their sponsorship of the City Year Orlando Corp at Walker. Wells Fargo employees will be volunteering their time to make weekly restocking deliveries while the City Year volunteers will be doing the stocking. City Year is an education-focused, nonprofit organization that partners with public schools to provide full-time targeted intervention for students most at risk of dropping out.Pictured here is Robert Stuart, Executive Director of the Christian Service Center; Debra Jodts, District Manager from Wells Fargo; Jordan Plante, Vice President & Executive Director from City Year; and Dr. Gonzalez, principal at Walker MS. Please click on the photo to see a short YouTube video on the dedication.

The Love Pantry project is removing hunger as a barrier to learning at Walker Middle School and across Orange County.

It takes a village to fill a Love Pantry.

Can you imagine being 10 years old and hiding food under your bed so you could have something to eat?

This story was reported recently by a Love Pantry In-School Coordinator:

We had a situation at our school where a child confided to her teacher that she was hoarding food under her bed. Her extended family had recently moved in, and there were now 13 people living in the house. Finances were very tight. There was no money to buy the groceries needed to feed that many people. This student didn’t know if she was going to have anything to eat, so she was keeping food items under her bed, just in case.

When a family member came to school to pick her up, we were able to pack a couple of bags of groceries for them from the Love Pantry. The change was instantaneous. It took her fear away.

For a child, the fear of not knowing if they’re going to eat makes it very difficult for them to do homework, or study for FCAT. If you can remove that fear of hunger, then it allows the student to do what we as teachers need for them to do on an educational basis.

The Love Pantry is here for emergency use, just like in the case of that child who was saving food because all the relatives had moved in. I take for granted that I’m going to eat dinner when I go home at night. A child saving food and keeping it under their bed: that’s about fear.

The Love Pantry is removing hunger as a barrier to learning.

Even teachers need help!

This just came in from a teacher whose family was in a crisis situation and needed help with groceries from the Love Pantry:

I would like to personally thank you and the Love Pantry for helping me in my time of need. The love and the compassion shown to myself and my family has been overwhelming. I don’t know what I would have done without you. Blessings to you all. Thank you,Thank you from the bottom of our hearts you guys have been awesome. Hugs to you 🙂 With God all things are possible.

Glenridge Middle School’s Love Pantry saves FCAT for one student

On the morning of FCAT testing, student A.S. came into my office and asked, “Ms. Williams, my stomach is hurting; I didn’t have breakfast. Do you have food?” I responded, “Yes.” I opened the Love Pantry, took out a box of cereal, milk, fruit and juice, then served the student.

A.S. was so grateful for some food to eat before FACT testing he could not stop thanking us. In reality, he was thanking the Christian Service Center for providing the Love Pantry and helping us to stock it weekly.

A hungry child cannot focus and concentrate on academics in a classroom.

Thank you to the Christian Service Center for all that you do to support our families in crisis.

Kenlyn P. Talbot William, Registrar and McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Coordinator Glenridge Middle School

Grandmother is in the hospital and no food in the cupboards; Love Pantry to the rescue!

Having a love pantry has helped one particular family in need. There is a family of 3 siblings that attend our school who have a hard time attaining food. They live with their Grandmother who is in the hospital a lot, and their older brother who takes care of them when she’s away is illiterate. Because of their circumstances, they must try to get food anyway they can. The love pantry has assisted them tremendously in making sure the children are eating. Thank you love pantry!

“What does the Love Pantry mean to our school and our students?”

One Love Pantry School Coordinator’s response:

Although we only started with the Love Pantry several months ago, it has already had a profound effect. One family I was working with was on the brink of living in their car when I was able to help them gather enough money for a deposit on an apartment by assisting them with enough food to get them by until they got on their feet. There were no other resources for this family as they also had run out of money for gas in order to go anywhere to obtain other assistance. I have no doubt this family would’ve suffered gravely had it not been for the Love Pantry.

The Love Pantry: Feeding families, one school pantry at a time.

Program aimed at feeding hungry students facing money woes – as seen on WFTV

As featured on WFTV News Channel 9 on May 31, 2012

To watch the entire broadcast click on the the link below.


Money woes may force a program aimed at helping to feed hungry Orange County children to shut down. More than 3,000 families depend on food pantries to help feed their children. But a surge in donations has slowly dropped off.

“When you are worried about what you will eat and when you will eat again, it is very tough to concentrate on your times tables,” said Rock Lake Elementary Principal Lynne Wassatt.

One in every three students atRock Lake Elementary School does not have a place to call home. And even the children who have homes don’t always get enough food to eat.

“Wonderful children, amazing parents who work very hard. But it is difficult to make ends meet, even with minimum wage,” said Wassatt. Two-hundred-sixty-four of RockLake’s 275 students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. But that does not help them when school is out. “The weekend is always the hardest,” said Wassatt.

To help keep the children fed, First Baptist Orlando gave the Christian Service Center$28,000 to start the Love Pantries program. It’s a program that is now in 38 Orange County schools.

”There are fewer children who come in on Mondays who say, ‘We’re hungry’” said Wassatt. This year, Love Pantries fed 3,200 families.

But the center is struggling to get the money it needs to keep the pantries filled for summer school and for next year. It has raised only $60,000 of the $150,000 it needs.

“We now found out the summer needs are greater than what we anticipated. We’re trying to figure out how to get food out there,” said Robert Stuart of the Christian Service Center.

Wassatt said it is up to the community to meet the children’s needs. “Filling their tummies is a big need,” said Wassatt. The Love Pantry program also helps families get connected to resources that will help them become self-sufficient.

OCPS Superintendent, Dr. Barbara Jenkins, loves the Love Pantry.

Dr. Jenkins is shown here with our Executive Director, Robert Stuart.

The new Orange County Public School Superintendent, Dr. Barbara Jenkins, took time out of her busy schedule to visit the Christian Service Center to learn more about the Love Pantry Project. Children who are hungry struggle to learn – it’s a proven fact. Through our partnership, thousands of students and their families had their immediate needs met, right at their school.

“The Love Pantry is a tremendous service to the community. We know that our kids learn better when they don’t have to worry about food,” says Dr. Jenkins. “We love the Love Pantry.”

Each of the 38 Orange County School Love Pantry locations were supplied with a metal lockable cabinet furnished with 367 food and 70 hygiene items, plus community resource information to move the families toward help and independence. During the second semester of this project, the Love Pantry supplied 48,293 food and 3,628 hygiene items to 4,668 household members which included 3,034 children. In addition to financial support from the community, over 878 ADDitions volunteer hours were donated.

Thank you, Dr. Jenkins, for your support of this vital project.

The Love Pantry: Removing hunger as a barrier to learning.

Love Pantry Goes Back to School!

Children who are hungry struggle to learn – it’s a proven fact. School is back in session with the Love Pantry ready to help feed hungry children. Since the Love Pantry project began in 2011, over eight thousand family members have received food and hygiene items, plus valuable community resource information available in each of the 39 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.

The Foundation for Orange County Public Schools’ sponsorship of the Kid’s Closet Love Pantry will allow access to an emergency food supply for all Orange Public County School students in need. During the Spring 2012 semester, the OCPS Foundation expanded the Love Pantry with their sponsorship of seven schools identified with high homeless populations. Now, the Kid’s Closet Love Pantry will provide a central location accessible to all OCPS social workers or designated homeless school coordinators throughout the county.

OCPS Homeless Education Program Specialist Christina Savino said, “The Kids’ Closet Love Pantry will provide a valuable resource for schools that are not traditionally looked upon as having a need, yet are identifying students experiencing homelessness within their own classrooms. The Kids’ Closet Love Pantry has the capacity to reach more students and schools than ever before. We are excited to be a part of this awesome effort!”

First Baptist Church of Orlando sponsored the 13 pilot project schools which started in August 2011.

Other generous sponsors of the Love Pantry project include:
Cathedral Church of St. Luke
Florida Hospital
Foundation for Orange County Public Schools
Just In Queso Foundation
Lake Silver Elementary School Foundation
Magruder Foundation
Maitland Men’s Club
McCoy Federal Credit Union
Orlando Kiwanis Foundation
Orlando Sentinel Family Fund
Universal Studios
WACX-TV/Super Station 55
Wells Fargo
And generous individuals like you!

Nap Ford goes from “F” to an “A” with help from the Love Pantry

Read what one principal says about the Love Pantry’s impact at her school:

Dear Robert,

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for helping us turn around our school – going from a state letter grade of F to an A.

In order to address academic needs, we must first address the fundamental needs of children. These needs include food, clothing and shelter. THANK YOU for helping us address the fundamental issue of hunger at our school. If children are hungry they can not learn. With 98% of our students living at or below the poverty line ‘food’ is a major challenge in the home.

With the love pantry, we were able to address every single report from our students indicating they were hungry and had not eaten since the previous day’s lunch, served at school. After the love pantry had been at the school for a few months, we went from Monday reports of children not eating over the weekend to zero!

By removing the concern over where the next meal is coming from children can focus on academics, and families can focus on helping them succeed.

Once again, thank you.

Peace and Blessings,
Jennifer Porter-Smith, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Nap Ford Community School