Kiwanis Club of Orlando gives time and money to Love Pantry

Kiwanis Check presentationKiwanis Club of Orlando President Rick Sickles and Kiwanis Club of Orlando Foundation President Harry Brumley present a check to the Christian Service Center in sponsorship of 6 Love Pantry school locations for the 2014-2015 school year. Orlando Kiwanis was of the first civic groups to support the Love Pantry project back in 2011 with a matching challenge grant, and just recently made a renewed commitment to the project. The foundation is providing the financial support, while the club members will be delivering the food each week to the adopted schools. Time and money!!! Thank you to the Kiwanis Club of Orlando for their long term support of the Center. Together we are removing hunger as a barrier to learning. #LovePantry.

Rock Lake Beavers go from “D” to “C”

This morning I got a call from one of my parents about how her 3 children did this school year and possible retention. She didn’t have the money for bus fare to the school and was hoping we could help her via the telephone. After the academic conversation, and knowing that the family had been experiencing homelessness, I asked if we could help her with food or toiletries. She explained that she was feeding her 5 children the last can of chicken noodle soup and did not know where she would find anything for them for dinner.

My Love Pantry coordinator packed up a box of food/personal items, and she and I drove to the apartment complex where the family was now living with her mother and brother. While the Mom shyly told us that the 3 adults in the household had not eaten in 4 days so that the children would be able to share what little food was in the cupboard. We had to strongly encourage the grownups to eat some of the food we brought from the Love Pantry so they would have the stamina needed to care of 5 children.

The family was so happy and thankful to be able to put food out for their children (they have no tables, chairs, or beds) but my coordinator and I felt truly blessed to have the resources from the Love Pantry to support one of our families in need.

Thank you, Love Pantry, for allowing us to help feed our Rock Lake Beavers. Because of thoughtful and dedicated people like you, Rock Lake Elementary moved from the school grade of “D” to a “C” this year.


Lynne Wassatt


Rock Lake Elementary

FCAT scores in Central Florida go up over 2013

The following front page article features Palmetto Elementary School’s triumph on the FCAT. Palmetto is one of our Love Pantry locations. The Love Pantry: Removing hunger as a barrier to learning. #lovepantry

FCAT scores in Central Florida go up over 2013
FCAT scores released and show improvement in most areas

Most Central Florida schools posted higher scores on FCAT exams this year compared with 2013, results released Friday showed, but Palmetto Elementary School in Orange County stole the show with double-digit gains.
The south Orlando school, graded an F in 2013, saw strong improvement on almost every FCAT exam, with the biggest jump on the fourth-grade math test. This year, 65 percent of Palmetto students scored at grade level on that test compared with 24 percent in 2013.
Across Orange, elementary students made strong gains in math, as they did in Volusia County, where the percentage scoring at grade level increased from 55 percent last year to 60 percent this year.
In Lake County high school students boosted reading scores, and in Osceola County across-the-board improvements earned recognition from the state.
Seminole County remained the region’s high-performing leader, with average scores well above the state’s, but showed more modest increases than the others. The district had the best scores among the state’s 17 largest school districts, leaving Superintendent Walt Griffin “over-the-top thrilled.”
In Seminole, for example, 68 percent of middle schools students were at grade-level in reading, compared with 58 percent statewide.
The statewide results released Friday are the last from the reading and math sections of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. They will be replaced next year by the Florida Standards Assessments, standardized tests for language arts and math aligned to the state’s new Common Core standards.
At Palmetto, district leaders came to the school Friday for pep-rally-like news conference, cheering and clapping for its staff. Bill Sublette, chairman of the Orange County School Board, called the school’s achievement “nothing short of remarkable.”
But a shy 12-year-old in a polka-dot dress may have summed up the school’s success most succinctly.
The school year was “awesome because of my teacher. She helped me a lot,” said Stecie Roberts, who like many Palmetto students is a Haitian immigrant for whom English is her second language. On FCAT, Stecie added, “I did really good.”
Fourth graders like Stecie posted a 26-percentage point gain on FCAT reading compared with 2013, while fifth graders had a 23-point gain in science and third graders improved math scores 30 percentage points.
The 10th-grade reading test is among the most important of FCAT, which includes standardized exams in math, reading, science and writing taken by nearly 2 million public school students.
Students must pass 10th-grade reading to earn a high school diploma. This year, the percentage passing increased in most districts, with the biggest local gains in Lake, where 54 percent were at grade level compared to 49 percent last year. The state average was 55 percent.
The thousands of students who did not pass, including more than 6,000 in Orange, will have to retake it.
In all, the Florida Department of Education released FCAT reading scores for grades 4 to 10, FCAT math scores for grades 4 to 8 and FCAT science  scores for grades 5 and 8. It had previously released scores for FCAT writing and math and reading scores for third graders.
As part of Florida’s controversial school-accountability system, the scores are used to help make student class assignments, evaluate teacher quality and grade public schools A to F.
Palmetto, located off south Orange Blossom Trail, faces the challenges of many urban schools. Just about all of its 1,100 students live in low-income families, more than half are learning English and many move throughout the school year, disrupting their education.
Principal Angela Murphy-Osborne, tapped to take over the school last summer, also had lots of teacher turnover to contend with. But she said she tried to focus all her instructors on teaching to the curriculum standards and hired an extra attendance clerk to make sure no one missed too many classes. “We’re an incredible team together,” she said.
Teacher Lourdes Quinones Santiago said both she and her daughter, Alysha Delgado, 9, struggled at the start of the school year after a move from Puerto Rico. Santiago had been a teacher of the year on the island but said she did poorly on her first evaluation at Palmetto.



Conway Love Pantry helps multi-generational family

Conway ElementaryThe Conway Elementary Love Pantry Coordinator shared this story about one family who received food and hygiene from the Conway Love Pantry: Annie is a mom who goes to work from early in the morning until around 6:30 p.m.  She has two kids at Conway.  Also in the household are her mother, an older son, and a four-year old grandchild of Annie.  Annie does housekeeping in a hotel near Epcot.  They live in a rundown duplex near school, and the landlord doesn’t fix anything around the home that needs fixing.  Annie spoke of mold growing in the place.  The Love Pantry help doesn’t solve that problem, but it helps, in general, to make this week just a bit easier for Annie and the kids.

Rosemont Love Pantry aids family in need

Rosemont Elementary logoBelow is a blurb from one of our parents receiving food from the Love Pantry before the holidays:

We are so thankful for the food provided to us. It was a great help as we began the new school year and settled into living in Orlando from Minnesota. While I have a steady job now and we no longer need the help, I cannot be anything but thankful for everyone who helped us during the transition. It was a challenging situation moving here and I am so grateful for the help when we needed it most.

Thank you,
Emily Sitz, Parent Resource / Partners in Education Coordinator, Rosemont Elementary

Love Pantry aids Angel Tree for Christmas

untitledWe’ll have a big order this time around–we had a lot of families on our Angel Tree this year (twice as many as ever before) and we’re sending home food from the Love Pantry with them, as well. It’s also raising awareness of the pantry’s availability–2 of the parents today teared up over the gifts, and then outright cried when I handed them bags of food to help with the kids’ lunches and breakfasts during the week next week.

One parent said, “I try so hard never to ask for help, but I just knew we couldn’t afford to get anything for the kids for Christmas with the car breakdown costing over $800 to fix last month. I never dreamed that not only would we be able to give them something to unwrap on Christmas morning, but now I don’t have to worry about them having something in their bellies every morning and afternoon while I’m at work next week. This is such a huge blessing. Thank you, thank you!”

Whitney Brandt

Parent and Community Relations

Cornerstone Charter Academy

Howard Middle School needs a total restock!

Howard Middle SchoolThank you so much for the Love Pantry. You have no idea how many children you have fed during the last few days here.  I have had several new homeless students enter the school and couldn’t believe how quickly my pantry was being cleaned out.  I have children in my school who would have gone without food over the Thanksgiving break if it had not been for the Love Pantry. I need a total restock. I can’t thank you enough for all you do.  Bless you!!!
Adrienne K. Dienst, MSW
SAFE Coordinator
Howard Middle School

The Love Pantry helps another family…

bear lakeWe have a family of 3 kids who are homeless at the moment. They sometimes stay at a hotel that only has a microwave. We are able to give them food from the Love Pantry because it all can be cooked using a microwave. The food they received was most likely the only food they had those days. The little girl, who is in fourth grade, told her teacher, “I’m so happy when I see the bags with food here for me!”

Bear Lake Elementary Love Pantry Coordinator

From a Millennia Elementary School Counselor…

milleniaIt is difficult to put into words how much the Love Pantry blesses families at Millennia Elementary. Without it, children and their parents would be hungry and distressed. No longer do we have to struggle finding ways to provide for them with the Love Pantry on our campus. The food items and personal hygiene products are now readily available to families in need.

One family in particular lives in a hotel room with six children. The mother is disabled and the father struggles to find work every day as a construction worker. On a good day, he fills in as a temporary builder. With your generous gifts of food to this family, the children are nourished and come to school satisfied and able to learn.

Your mission and goal of providing food and hygiene products for our children continues to ease the minds of many Millennia families who are experiencing difficult times. You also help those of us who care so deeply for these precious children. Thank you again for serving ALL of us at Millennia Elementary School. May the Lord continue to bless your efforts as you bless others.

In him,

Mrs. Patti Gordon

School Counselor

John Young Elementary

john young bannerWe have a family at our school with seven children.  The family struggles to have the necessities to carry on everyday life.  One parent is working and the other is not due to caregiving of the children ages ranging from 2 through 16.  We have provided food for this family out of our Love Pantry and they are very grateful for help received.  I have given them the community resource information for assistant to see if there is any other help that can be provided.  These parents are good people on hard times.  They wanted me to express their thanks for all.

Donna Neubauer, John Young Elementary Love Pantry Coordinator