BARTOW — According to the organization Feeding America, there are 2,252,050 people in Florida who are experiencing hunger, and 660,500 of them are children.
“Though many of us may not realize the grave disparities that exist in our own communities, people face hunger in every county and congressional district in Florida,” the organization noted on its website. “They could be our neighbors, kids in our children’s classes – the possibilities go on.”
That’s a key reason why Central Florida takes part in the ongoing Cereal For Summer campaign, to feed kids throughout the Tampa Bay area. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is one of the agencies participating in this drive, and anyone living in the Orlando area is encouraged to ctake the time to donate to it this month.
What is the Cereal For Summer Campaign?
Sponsored by WSTP 10 Tampa Bay and Feeding Tampa Bay, the campaign aims to reduce hunger in Central Florida as families cope with rising inflation and skyrocketing housing costs across the state. As Feeding Tampa Bay notes, once school ends for the summer, kids are no longer guaranteed free or reduced meals during the summer months.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is eager to lending a hand to this worthy campaign, noted Carrie Horstman, public information officer for the sheriff’s office in Bartow.
“Those who wish to donate boxes of cereal can drop them off at the PCSO main office or any of the district offices and jails,” Horstman noted. “Each office has a large collection box.”
A list of the agency’s locations is available here. Donations are being accepted between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Friday, May 5.
“Last year, we donated more cereal than any other organization except one,” Horstman notes. “We hope to improve on that this year and be the top donor!”
Why Is This Food Drive Being Organized?
Feeding Tampa Bay notes that its goal is to “nourish and fuel young minds,” since “one in four children in our area do not know where their next meal will come from. Many children face hunger over the summer when they are not guaranteed free or reduced meals that they usually receive at school.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines this problem as “food insecurity,” or not having enough food in your home to maintain an active and healthy life, particularly for every member of the household.
They also define it as having a lack of access to foods with nutritional value.
Feeding America notes that there are more than 38 million people in the U.S. who are food insecure, including 12 million children, and that the pandemic increased food insecurity among families with children, particularly in communities of color that were already experiencing hunger before the pandemic started.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright, and author of the book A Christmas Eve Story. Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.