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.