DID YOU KNOW?
There is more than enough food in America to feed every man, woman and child, yet here in South Florida, over 794,110 people struggle with hunger.1 Mobile School Pantry procures, sorts, inventories and directly provides food to those most vulnerable – our children and families. 1. Source: Map the Meal Gap 2016 study by Feeding America
In the United States, according to the USDA, 40 percent of all the food produced each year is lost at the retail, consumer, and food service levels. That’s 133 Billion pounds of food a year. Much of what is wasted is perfectly edible, surplus food. Mobile School Pantry understands the importance of capturing excess food and providing it to people in need. Last year, our pantry diverted over 72,000 pounds of safe, edible food that might otherwise have gone to waste, to South Floridians facing hunger.
Mobile School Pantry works with Title 1 schools to establish a pop up Client Choice pantry on site, from which students and their families can access nutritious food items. The goal of the school pantry program is to provide not only food but connections to additional services for the family in order to achieve long-term solutions to end hunger. Children and families are referred to the School Pantry by the guidance counselor or social worker at the school. There are two qualifications to participate in our program- Student must be enrolled in a participating school and need a helping hand.
Our School Pantry offers a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, bread and non-perishable food items in a farmer’s market-style atmosphere at no charge to families in need of food assistance. The program operates once a month at each school. During this time, we distribute an average of 6,000 pounds of food items and serve 100 to 200 children and families.
Our Client Choice model offers other advantages, including:
- A sense of dignity for children and their families
- Enables children and families to meet their personal dietary needs
- Higher satisfaction with the wide variety of food they are able to choose
- Less food waste and ultimately less cost of food provided
- Greater opportunities for volunteer, children and families to interact; more social, supportive relationship opportunities
School Pantries are Critical to a Child’s Success
Studies link food insecurity in children to lower test scores and academic failure. Hungry children have trouble concentrating and struggle with behavioral issues in the classroom. Without sufficient nutrition, kids face a higher risk for developmental impairments. Individuals who have struggled with food insecurity as a child suffer long-term effects, such as poor health and lack of job readiness.
What Sets Our School Pantry Apart from Other Programs
Schools participating in the program have high levels of participation in the free and reduced-price school meals program, we know that we are reaching a pre-qualified population in need. Our pantry operates within the schools, minimizing the stigma sometimes attached to food assistance by offering it in a convenient, familiar setting that is already part of families’ everyday lives.
We provide a supportive way to help students and their families through tough times, which in turn helps the child become more successful in school. Our pantry provides fresh and nutritious food to families throughout the school year, while providing access to emergency and supplemental food during additional times of need. Our “Client choice” – enables children and families to choose produce & dry goods that they prefer.