About The Campaign Against Summer Hunger
This annual Campaign, now in its 4th year, is a community-wide effort to feed children in Sarasota and DeSoto Counties who are at risk of hunger over the summer. The Campaign raises money through generous investors who provide an opportunity for matched donations, so that we can feed tens of thousands of children who might otherwise go hungry. In 2016, more than 31,000 children were fed a total of 2.2 million meals. This was an incredible accomplishment, but our work is not even close to being done. 21,000 Sarasota County students qualify for free and reduced meal programs at school, but what about their younger siblings and the children who face hunger in DeSoto County? As many as 40,000 children could be at risk of hunger this summer.
“What’s it Worth?” 2017 editorial by Sandra Frank, CEO, All Faiths Food Bank
In its fourth year, the Campaign Against Summer Hunger has made incredible gains. We have delivered millions of meals to tens of thousands of children in our community over the past three summers. We have learned so much – about the hidden children among us, those whose information has eluded the census and school rosters. We’ve learned about the money struggles that parents face when they work in the service business in a seasonal town, and about how pervasive the problem of summer hunger is for the 40,000 children in our community who face it daily.
With everything we have learned, we still have questions that must be answered. Here’s one: What if we, as a society, were faced with the same decisions that families must make? If we could only feed one group of people, which group would it be? In the awful mathematics of this moment, where would we put our resources?
I say we should invest in our children. We should protect them, and provide for them, allowing them to have a fair shot at a good and productive life. If we don’t feed those kids who are at risk of daily hunger, they won’t get that shot. If we don’t take care of them now, not only will it impact them today and tomorrow, it will mean that they won’t be able to care for themselves when they are older. And it will be our fault.
We must not blame hungry children for being hungry. Instead, we should hold ourselves accountable, and do for them what good people have been doing since the beginning of history. We simply pay for them. Here’s why: If we have the courage to ask ourselves what it’s worth to us to feed hungry children, then we should have the courage to hear the answer: it is worth whatever it costs to ensure that children get the nutrition they need to be successful in their lives.
This is preventative nutrition – and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The job of feeding the children who will otherwise go hungry over the summer falls to those of us who can see that kids who don’t eat well during the summer are not likely to be prepared for school in the fall. We know that kids who don’t eat well during the summer are less likely to retain their summer school work and assigned reading. These children will grow up and become the workforce of tomorrow. They will attend Universities and become our teachers, coaches, technicians, engineers, doctors and nurses.
What is our Return on Investment when we feed hungry children? What’s in it for us? Some people would argue that virtue is its own reward, and that feeding hungry children is a virtuous act. For those people who need more concrete rewards, here’s what’s in it for you: Tens of thousands of children, in our community, playing, laughing, and having the kind of summer that you remember having. Tens of thousands of boys and girls who have forgotten their troubles and who get to just be kids for a little while. Tens of thousands of children ready to succeed upon their return to school in the autumn.
Excerpts from a 2016 editorial by Sandra Frank, CEO, All Faiths Food Bank
When school ends, hunger begins for those students who get meals at school, their younger siblings, and for other kids who simply aren’t on the radar of the agencies that gather data. Each year, thousands of children spend the summer without knowing where or when they will eat again. Very conservative estimates place the number of school children in our community who face daily hunger at 21,000. I believe that, when we factor in the ‘invisible children’ – the younger siblings of those school children and others who aren’t included in official counts – the number of hungry kids is closer to 40,000.
- Did you know you can drop off your nonperishable food donation for us at any Sarasota County Goodwill location? That helps us spend less on gas and more on food.
- Volunteer: Contact Heather Cline to learn more, firstname.lastname@example.org or 941-549-8156.
- Stay in touch: Sign up for our E-newsletter
- Host a Food and Fund Drive
The 2016 Campaign Against Summer Hunger was a huge success in that we surpassed our goals. We know that we must do better, and with the support of our generous community, we will. Learn more about how your support impacts children: Click for the full 2016 Summer Impact Report
The summer of 2016 by-the-number, thanks to you.
- 31,058 CHILDREN fed
- 2,237,000 MEALS provided
- 154 PARTNERS helped accomplish our goals
Your compassion and generosity funded the 2016 Summer Food Programs, and helped surpass our goals, nourishing more than 31,000 children in Sarasota and Desoto Counties this summer. The Summer Food Programs, made possible by your support, continue to feed more children in our community each year. This is being accomplished by broadening existing programs and developing new programs, and by deepening current community partnerships and creating new ones.
A community united in the Campaign Against Summer Hunger has made it possible for us to nourish more children with each passing year.
It’s All About Partnerships
The Campaign Against Summer Hunger has reached or surpassed its goals thanks to the generous community partners who engage in raising funds and food. Summer food assistance programs are more effective due to partnerships with the Sarasota County Schools Food and Nutrition Services, Sarasota County Libraries and Sarasota County Area Transit. These and other child-centric organizations play an important role in supporting, implementing and promoting the Summer Food Programs that feed hungry children. In 2016, 154 community partners – our largest group yet – played an instrumental role in feeding more than 31,000 children and their families.
Impact – Summer Stories
Lunchtime Leads to High School Diploma
Brandy Harrison, mother of three, ate lunch with 4-year-old Dakota, 5-year-old Cheyenne, and 8-year-old Micheal. They sat at a picnic table in the shade of an old oak tree at the DeSoto County Library enjoying chicken, apples, celery, a roll and milk served by volunteers from the Sarasota County School District’s Breakspots. As a partner of All Faiths Food Bank’s summer food assistance programs, the Breakspots provide hot breakfasts and lunches to children all summer long in Sarasota and DeSoto County. Micheal, who proudly boasts straight-A grades in school, also attended a Cooking Matters class, part of All Faiths Food Banks nutrition and education programs that teaches children to prepare healthy meals themselves. Over lunch he spoke about his cooking skills, “I make the best tacos now like we learned in class but my all-time favorite is my smoothie. I invented new ones and they are even better than the ones they taught us.”
His mom Brandy said, “These lunches are really good and help us so much during the summer when it is harder to feed them right. My kids love coming to the library now and I can’t believe how this has worked out for all of us. Miss Cindy, the librarian, helped me sign up to get my high school diploma here – free.” She proudly added, “When I’m done with high school, I am going to study so I can work in an office and make enough to take care of my family and help my husband start his own business. I am so happy that I can do this for me and my kids. They have food and books and I know school is going to be great for them and for me this year.”
Photo credit: Savannah Lauren
Student Gives Back
Genesis McDaniel is in eighth grade and volunteers at the library. She and her mom Toni heard about the Breakspot lunches served there through another of All Faiths Food Bank’s distribution partners who provide food year round. Though getting a healthy meal was the goal when they first attended in the lunches – prepared and served by the Sarasota County School District’s Food and Nutrition Services – Genesis learned that she could help out at the library. “I want to go to college and volunteering is important for your college application,” she said as she sat down for lunch with her mom. “I’ve been working here as a volunteer all summer now and it’s been great – I have had a lot of fun doing it too.”
Photo credit: Savannah Lauren
The Boys and Girls Club
James Leggett is a teacher at Venice High School but during the summers, he works at the Robert and Joan Lee Boys and Girls Club in Venice. He spoke to an All Faiths Food Bank staff person during a noisy cafeteria lunch served by the Sarasota County School District’s Food and Nutrition Services. “Too many parents can’t afford the food they need to feed their kids over the summer,” he said. “During the school year, I meet kids who don’t eat at all on weekends. Venice High now has a School Pantry, stocked by All Faiths Food Bank. These programs – and especially the summer programs – are phenomenal.”
Photo credit: Savannah Lauren