On Tuesday, February 5th, local Walmart officials, leaders of Orange County Public Schools (OCPS), elected officials and the Christian Service Center joined together at Spring Lake Elementary School in Ocoee to serve students in celebration of the expansion of the Love Pantry program into the school, and 9 others in the County, thanks to a recent $100,000 grant made possible by the Walmart Foundation as part of their “Fighting Hunger Together” campaign.
With the expansion of the program, thanks to Walmart’s generous donation, the Love Pantry will now serve 63 OCPS schools, stocking school shelves with emergency food to help feed hungry families.
“Walmart is committed to partnering with local nonprofits, like the Christian Service Center and the Love Pantry, to help fight hunger in our communities,” said Cheryl Lester, regional manager of the Central Florida region for Walmart. “Children need nutritious food to grow and learn. By leveraging our resources, Walmart hopes to make a difference in not only the lives of these children, but also their families.”
Far too many families in Orange County have limited financial resources, with more than 58% of OCPS students on free or reduced lunch, according to the Christian Service Center. Children who are hungry struggle to learn. Since the Love Pantry began in 2011, over eight thousand family members have received food and hygiene items, plus valuable community resource information.
“The addition of a Love Pantry to Spring Lake Elementary will have a huge impact on our students and their families, as well as our staff,” says Dr. Angela Murphy-Osborne, OCPS ‘Principal of the Year’ and principal of Spring Lake Elementary, which is one of the county’s highest at 98% free and reduced lunch. “As educators, we see how the students suffer from poor nutrition and its negative affects on their performance. As a result, many of our teachers and administrators, including myself, have dug into our own pockets to help feed our students. Thanks to Walmart and the Christian Service Center, we will now have a fully stocked pantry with food and personal hygiene items for the children to bring home to their families in emergency situations, which is a huge relief for us and for them.”