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Hunger doesn't take a holiday. Here's where families can find food while school's out

One in five children are at risk of going hungry in Central Florida.
Danielle Prieur
One in five children is at risk of going hungry in Central Florida.

Second Harvest of Central Florida is encouraging families to get the help they need this holiday season when it comes to food insecurity.

WMFE’s Danielle Prieur reports, one in five children in Central Florida is at risk of going hungry.

School’s out for the holidays, which means students won’t be able to get free breakfast and lunch at school.

Erika Spence of Second Harvest of Central Florida says that’s where the nonprofit comes in. Families can use the food bank locator tool to find their nearest food bank to get the nutrition they need.

Spence says some sites allow families to grocery shop for individual items, while others might have prepared food packs.

“So there’s nothing that you need to bring with you. You don’t need a driver's license or ID. Sometimes we’ll have notes that say you need to call ahead because they need to prepare the right amount of bags or boxes," said Spence.

She says sites will provide food for the next two weeks. Most sites will offer a variety of fruits, vegetables, canned and boxed goods, and some will even provide fresh meat and dairy.

“We rely on our feeding partners to select foods that they think that the people in their neighborhood and in their community would enjoy," said Spence.

Click here for the food bank locator tool, that you can use to find your nearest food pantry using your work, school or home address.

If you'd like to donate food items to Second Harvest, here are the most in-need items this holiday season:

  • Fruits: Canned fruit (in its own juice, no sugar added varieties), dried fruit, 100% fruit juice
  • Vegetables: Canned vegetables (reduced salt/no salt varieties), 100% vegetable juice, spaghetti sauce
  • Grains: Rice, pasta, crackers (whole-grain varieties), ready-to-eat cereal (low sugar/high-fiber), oatmeal
  • Protein Foods: Canned meat/poultry, canned tuna/salmon (packed in water), canned/dry beans & peas (low/no salt varieties), peanut butter
  • Dairy/Dairy Alternatives: Nonfat dry milk, evaporated milk, soymilk
  • Meals: Beef stew, canned soup (reduced sodium varieties), chili, other canned meals
  • Other: Nutritional drinks (ex: Ensure, Boost)
  • Baby Food: Must be in complete, undamaged original packaging. No individual serving glass or plastic containers unless in an unopened case.
  • Non-food Items: Diapers, toiletries (soap, shampoo, shaving cream, etc.). Must be unopened and stored separate from food donations.
  • Powdered infant milk or soy based formulas (WIC-approved preferred)
  • Baby cereal
  • Baby fruits (single ingredient preferred)
  • Baby vegetables (single ingredient preferred)
  • Baby Meats (no meat sticks)
  • Shelf-stable white whole milk for 1 year olds; Shelf-stable 1% (low fat) or skim milk for 2 years olds and up; Shelf-stable soy milk.
  • Shelf stable foods designed for toddlers such as Stage 3, Graduates, etc.

Learn more about starting a food or fund drive for Second Harvest here.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.
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