Florida nonprofits fighting hunger during and after school

2022-08-08 08:07:59 By : Ms. Natalie Huang

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As school starts back up, the rush of students getting food in the cafeteria begins again.

But feeding students isn't just something that happens in between classes and at lunch, it's an all-day process.

"Kids are more susceptible to learn when they have full bellies, so we want to make sure we are giving them proper nutrition, the opportunity to thrive," said Traver McLaughlin from United Way of Palm Beach County.

At United Way of Palm Beach County, McLaughlin says they are invested in multiple programs that help kids get fed not just during school, but after and on the weekends.

"What is really happening after the day is over-- that means they are able to have that third meal in their day as part of these after-school programs," he said.

United Way highlights three major programs: The Afterschool Meals Program, Childcare Food Program and Weekend Backpack Program.

At the weekend backpack program, students at select schools across the county can get their backpacks filled with food on Fridays before they leave school.

"So when they take it home with them, they have meals for the entire weekend to give to their family of four," said McLaughlin.

WATCH: WPBF 25 News Back-to-School special

But for these programs to work, they require funding, and this year, both United Way and their partner, the Palm Beach County Food Bank, are tapping into a $4.5 million donation provided by philanthropist Mackenzie Scott, the former wife of Jeff Bezos.

That $4.5 million will be matched by the county for a total of $9 million.

We definitely rely on donations, grants and foundations to help support our mission of ending hunger here in Palm Beach County

For United Way, keeping kids fed is a part of the learning process, and with empty bellies, kids are getting cut short on a full education. This new funding just helps make that more possible.

"Everything is all interconnected, hunger connects with everything. This is one thing will be focused on allowing these programs to continue on," said McLaughlin.

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