JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Almost half of Jacksonville children receive free or reduced lunches during the school year. But during the summer months, thousands of those kids go hungry each day.
Jacksonville's Second Harvest Food Bank, with help from Panera Bread, is addressing that problem this summer with a new initiative designed to provide important meals to thousands of low-income children this summer. Second Harvest has begun using a special new food delivery truck, provided in part by Panera Bread, to deliver food and refrigerated products used to create hot, nutritionally-balanced meals for dozens of Kid Cafe sites around the city. One of the first such deliveries was made Friday, July 11, at the Police Athletic League Kids Cafe Site on West 33rd Street.
"Panera Bread's passion for fighting hunger has helped make it possible for Second Harvest to ensure local low-income children are fed nutritious meals this summer," said Wayne Rieley, executive director of Second Harvest. "With a record number of families struggling to make ends meet, these sites will make a huge difference for so many local children this summer."
Panera Bread helped fund the new food delivery truck as a part of its Operation Dough-Nation, Community Breadbox program, which ensures that donations made at Panera Bread are matched by the company and then given back to the community.
“Panera Bread has been active in the fight against hunger since its founding,” said Steve Listner, who overseas regional operations of Panera Bread in Jacksonville. “This work has become an important part of the company’s corporate culture. The partnership between Panera Bread and Second Harvest has been rewarding for both, largely because of the tangible results produced.
Hunger and poverty affect a substantial portion of Jacksonville children.
- 49.3 percent of local children receive free or reduced lunch during the school year.
- 15.4 percent of all Jacksonville children live in poverty.
- Minorities are disproportionately affected with about one in four living in poverty.
- 38 percent of all Jacksonville children live in low-income homes (defined as homes where the income is below 200 percent of the federal poverty level).
The physical, mental, and emotional effects of child hunger are damaging and affect individual children as well as future knowledge, brainpower and productivity for the nation.
- Hunger has a negative impact on children's ability to learn in and out of school.
- Hunger contributes to stunting (low height for age) in children.
- Hungry children suffer from two to four times as many individual health problems, such as weight loss, fatigue and headaches.