Agape Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities of Central Florida, received two generous grants to bolster their SmilePak Pantry & Backpack Program and Mobile Food Pantry Program.
The SmilePak Pantry & Backpack Program received $28,000.00 from the George W. Jenkins Fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation.
The Mobile Food Pantry Program received $9,000 from an Impact Polk grant fully funded through The GiveWell Community Foundation
“Through our partnership with GiveWell, we are able to work with Polk County schools to identify the children and their families who are most at risk of suffering from hunger over the weekends,” said Kim Long, Director of Agape Food Bank. “Their continued support of our Mobile Food Pantry and SmilePak programs has allowed us to provide nutritious food to the most impoverished areas in our community.”
Polk County is ranked 8th in the nation for food insecurity. The 2014 Feeding America.org Map the Gap reported that 16.7% of the Polk County population experience food insecurity. The report also found that 27.3% of those individuals were children.
“For these children, leaving school on Friday may mean not eating again until they return to school on Monday. We are thankful for all that GiveWell does to help us alleviate hunger in our community,” said Long.
SmilePak is currently operating in 22 schools throughout Polk County serving over 1,000 schoolchildren and their families each weekend during the school year. A typical SmilePak contains shelf stable 2% milk, 100 % fruit juice, cereal, and easy open cans of beef stew, chili, or red beans and rice for the children with additional supplies such as peanut butter, tuna fish, pasta dishes with canned fruits and vegetables for the family.
These grants will help Agape Food Bank continue to bring nutritious food to children, their families and other individuals in areas where the need is critical.
In 2013, Mobile Food Pantries served over 46,000 individuals. SmilePak distributed 78,180 meals during the 2013-14 school year.
The Agape Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities of Central Florida, is a food distribution warehouse in Lakeland, Florida serving nearly two hundred non-profit partner agencies in Polk, Highlands and Hardee counties. It is part of the national Feeding America Food Bank network and is the only designated USDA approved provider serving the tri-county region. Their vision is that 100% of the hungry population in the community has access to an adequate supply of nutritious food. Their mission is to lead the fight to end hunger in the community by providing nutritious food and transforming lives through innovative programming, education, and hunger advocacy.