Category: Kids Cafe

Assistance during the Government Shut Down

Dear Partner Agencies,

As I am sure you are aware, the government shutdown is entering its 3rd week. This shutdown affects all “non-essential” federal government employees, TSA agents, park rangers, congressional staff etc. Many of these furloughed employees have been working without pay, which is a tremendous strain on them and their families. We are hearing of an increase in need for people in our community to put food on their table. Many of these folks have not faced this situation before.

Please be sensitive to the needs and feelings of these individuals. This may be their first visit to a food pantry and they may not feel comfortable. We suggest that you be flexible with any intake processes you have, especially regarding income since this is a population that may not normally qualify for assistance.

We are monitoring this situation closely and are very aware of the potential hardship that may occur as your agency attempts to feed those in need. We are currently sending any referrals that we receive at the food bank to our Food Finder on our website that will direct them to a pantry or feeding program near them. If this situation is not resolved soon, we will explore additional ways to support you and your agency to provide relief to these clients.

We have a special section on our website with information about this situation. You can check back for updates. The current info is pasted below.

If you are seeing an increase in clients, please notify us immediately so that we can stay on top of this situation and evaluate next steps in supporting you.

Thank you for all that you do for those in need.

Government Shutdown 2019

If you have been affected by the government shutdown please reach out to us for help.

  • Online: Visit our Food Finder tool online to find your local food pantries.  
  • Phone: Call our main number 407-295-1066 to receive a list of food pantries.
  • Visit our community resources page if you need other types of assistance. 

Who does this affect?

The shutdown affects all “non-essential” federal government employees. This means people like TSA agents, park rangers, Congressional staff, staff for whole departments, like USDA.

Because the shutdown has lasted nearly 3 weeks, many of these “furloughed” employees have been working without pay. There’s a lot of uncertainty about how these individuals will be able to pay rent, or how they’ll be able to put food on the table. Approximately 800,000 federal workers and federal contractors have been furloughed without pay for an indefinite period, and it is expected that paychecks for federal workers and contractors will not arrive as scheduled.

It will also affect the 710,000 Central Floridians who use SNAP to put food on their tables. SNAP, formerly known as food stamps, is funded by the federal government and faces a February deadline for funding.

Other programs such as WIC and Child Nutrition Programs will have funding through February too.

How we will help

Since SNAP (formaly called Food Stamps) has funding through February, we won’t see an immediate impact for this program, but we are already seeing an uptick in searches for feeding partners to find food. We’ve received a few questions from furloughed employees who need resources to assist them during the government shutdown.

We’ve estimated that if this shutdown continues for a few months, we’d have a roughly $500,000 shortfall due to government contracts such as Head Start, after school meals, and others. Once the shutdown ends, we’ll be reimbursed for our social entrepreneurship services.

This equals to approximately 1 million meals that will disappear from Central Florida.

We will not be cutting any services and we will always find a way to continue to support our feeding partners in Central Florida

Second Harvest and Orange County Partner to Expand the Afterschool Meal Program

KCMealsWindowOn Monday, February 8th, after many months of planning, Second Harvest’s Kids Cafe Afterschool Supper Program began offering freshly prepared nutritious meals and snacks to children at 4 Orange County Parks and Recreation Centers.

Deliveries of supper style meals and snacks arrived at Capehart, Willow, Bithlo, and Barnett Park Recreation Centers. Three additional county sites, Silver Star, Lockhart and Orlo Vista are scheduled to start in early March.

Second Harvest Food Bank has been serving Kids Cafes since 1993, and currently sponsors 18 locations in three counties, reaching an average of 1,250 children daily. Since its inception, over 1.7 million meals have been served, over 33% of those in the last three years.

Meals and snacks attract children to after school programs where they can be safe, active, and engaged. The food provides energy and focus so that children can participate fully in enrichment activities offered at all centers.

The new sites will operate Monday through Fridays while school is in session and will continue to serve children year after year. Sustainability, the result of private and public support, as well as efficient meal production, will ensure that the program continues to benefit youth in our region for many years to come.


Kids Katch Tuna for Kids

Kids Katch TunaOn Tuesday, November 17th, elementary school kids at Cypress Creek Elementary School tallied up over 1,000 cans of tuna they’d been collecting for Second Harvest Food Bank. The cans will find their way to our Kids Cafes just before Thanksgiving; helping close the nutritional gap that exists in our neediest communities.

The motivating force behind this yearly project is awareness raising among 4th and 5th graders who are members of the Kiwanis K-Club. One in four of their counterparts across Central Florida struggles with food insecurity.  Standardized testing and heightened expectations for academic achievement have placed more demands on young students, making nutrition even more essential for success.

Over 70% of students in Orange County Schools qualify for free lunch, a figure that’s a reliable indicator of conditions at home.  For example, a family of two adults and a child must make less than $716 a week (Gross Income) to receive free lunch benefits. With rent, transportation and health expenses, working families face difficult choices.


Much Improved Meals for Kids Cafes Starting October 19th

Little-boy-with-lunch-268x300On Monday, October 19th, our community kitchen’s production line will begin to pump out freshly prepared, nutritionally balanced, and much improved afternoon meals for over 700 youngsters at 8 Orange, Osceola and Seminole locations.

The community kitchen honed its skills this past summer, serving up almost 117,000 meals for the Summer Food Service Program during 55operational days at 40 locations. Earlier this month, our production staff began working with Orange County Public Schools to provide lunches and snacks to 20 Head Start sites.

For years, Second Harvest has relied on outside prepared food providers to support its childhood hunger programs. Now, with the proven performance of our Community Kitchen, this function can be handled internally. More importantly, in-house food preparation allows for better control over menu planning, freshness, and temperatures.

Economic benefits also ripple into the local economy as workers are hired and raw product is sourced.

The Kids Cafe program reaches almost 2,000 children each and every day school is in session.

Since becoming a sponsor in 2002, Second Harvest has provided over 1.7 Million meals; over third of those since September 2012.

To see the location of our Kids Cafes, follow this link: Kids Cafes

To learn more about our Summer Food Program, follow this link: