Child Nutrition Programs
one-in-five-children-image

1 in 5 children in the Big Bend struggles daily with hunger.

Second Harvest of the Big Bend has several programs to meet the needs of children, who make up 33% of the people we serve.

Backpack Program
Child Eating

Our child nutrition programs serve children who qualify for free or reduced lunches during the school year, but often do not have consistent meals when not in school. Our Backpack Program provides children with a bag of food each Friday to ensure their nutritional needs are met over the weekend. Each food bag includes six components: milk, protein, ready-to-eat, fruit, vegetable and grain, and fits into a child’s backpack.

Second Harvest of the Big Bend started the backpack program in 2010 with one school site. The program has since grown to provide more than 1,200 bags of food every week to children in Leon, Gadsden, Madison, Wakulla, Jackson, Jefferson and Taylor counties, distributed through 11 partner sites, and serving children who rely on school breakfasts and lunches for their meals. Without our assistance, these children may go hungry over the weekend, returning to school distracted and not functioning at their full potential.

Surveys are collected both at the beginning and the end of the school year from participating children and their parents, and from teachers of those children. We look to the survey results for feedback about how to improve the program the following school year.

Our surveys of teachers and students participating in the backpack program indicate an increase in attendance, alertness, attention span and improved behavior.  Also, overall health and weight gain is seen as a significant improvement.

No federal funding exists for this program, therefore, the number of children we are able to serve each school year is dependent upon how much money we are able to raise through grants and donations.

For the 2018/2019 school year, we distributed 34,778 backpacks, or 208,668 meals, through our backpack program.

Afterschool Meals Program (AMP)
Child Eating

The Afterschool Meal Program helps feed local children at community centers and churches after school during the school months of August through June. This program helps bridge the gap for children who receive most of their meals from school and may not have a nutritious dinner when they go home. The partner sites have the option to serve a two-component snack, a five-component meal, or both during the afterschool hours. During the 2018/2019 school year, there were six partner sites in Leon County.

If you are interested in more information, please contact Shannon Piotrowski at (850) 562-3033, ext. 214 or spiotrowski@fightinghunger.org.

Summer Food Program
summer-meals-program logo

The Summer Food Program provides a nutritious meal and snack to children at sponsored sites who might otherwise go hungry. By providing meals during the summer months, we ensure that children continue to have a stable source of food for their nourishment and growth when school is out.

The sites can choose to offer two of the following: breakfast, snack or supper.  Currently we partner with five sites which provide more than 200 meals daily, Monday-Friday, during summer months.

Find a Summer Feeding site near you anywhere in the State of Florida: Find a Summer Break Spot

Summer Food Program Basics (PDF)

If you are interested in becoming a Summer Food Service Program site, please complete the online application: Summer Food Program Site Registration

Food on the Move
food on the move bus

The Food on the Move program helps bridge the gap during summer months for kids who rely on school for most of their meals. Second Harvest’s Food on the Move bus—a retro-fitted former school bus—travels to five neighborhoods every weekday, and serves more than 60 children daily, all summer long. Children enjoy nutrition education activities while they eat a healthy meal.

School Pantry Program

The School Pantry Program provides a large bag or box of food to accommodate a family for a few days. Currently this program operates in 2 high schools, 1 elementary school, 1 middle school and 1 college, all located in Leon County.