March 15, 2019

Tackling Teen Nutrition

Author: Agency Relations & Programs Team

One of the largest gaps in childhood hunger in Central Florida is food resources for teens.Hungry students are less likely to focus on their education and more likely to have behavioral problems, lower academic achievement and experience mental health issues.

Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida is working with local schools and community organizations to alleviate teen hunger with School Market partnerships. School Markets provide free snacks, meal items and fresh produce to students attending medium-to-high need schools without question of need or eligibility.

With the support of Walt Disney World, Second Harvest added a new component to the School Market program for the 2018-19 school year. Named the Teen Nutrition Team, these students lead peer-to-peer nutrition education efforts at their high school.

At Jones High School, Fritz Seardon and Jessica Thomas are members of the Teen Nutrition Team. They work together to design games and other activities to engage their peers in conversations about nutrition and prepare a food demo on different fruits, vegetables or healthy recipes each month.

“The people around me are eating healthier, so they can live longer and I can be with them longer,” explains Fritz.

Jessica likes to ask people what kinds of food they like and then try to broaden their horizons. “Sometimes we have different foods for sampling that they haven’t had before,” she explains. She finds a lot of satisfaction in helping students try new foods and understanding how easily accessible they are, whether at the grocery store or at the school market.

Learn more about the School Market program and Teen Nutrition Team at The Teen Nutrition Team is currently recruiting students for the 2019-20 school year from Jones, Oak Ridge and Osceola High Schools. Apply online.

March 13, 2019

Meet Jorge

Author: Agency Relations & Programs Team

Jorge Daupub was forced to leave his home in Venezuela due to the violence that erupted across the country. When he moved to Central Florida he knew very little English and worked odd jobs. He felt alone and scared about his future.

After starting a new job at a local hotel, he learned about Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program from a co-worker. Desperate for a more stable career, he went home to research the program. It seemed too good to be true. After learning about the different opportunities available for students after graduation, he decided to apply.

“When I found Second Harvest, it was such a relief,” explained Jorge. “The support system was a huge help. I didn’t feel alone anymore.”

Jorge is grateful for the new culinary skills he learned, as well as the life skills. “What I love the most is that I wasn’t taught to cook and then expected to figure everything else out on my own. Second Harvest taught me how to make a resume, work as a team, and lots of little things that help me be a professional. I realize how important these lessons are now that I have a job.”

Jorge is working at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. He hopes to continue his career with Hyatt and work with different cuisines and concepts.

The Second Harvest Culinary Training Program provides qualified, at-risk and economically disadvantaged adults with the culinary and life skills training needed to pursue a sustainable career in the food industry. To learn more about or apply for the program, visit

March 5, 2019

Hello Opportunities

Author: Agency Relations & Programs Team

As Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program students approach the end of the 16-week program, they begin to look for a place to start their new career. One way Second Harvest helps students succeed in the local food industry is through hands-on experiences. One career path could be to work in a hotel kitchen. The Hyatt Regency Orlando recently hosted our students for a field trip so they can better understand what would be required of them in a hotel kitchen.

“Today is all about showing the students the opportunities in front of them when they graduate,” explained Dan Markewicz, Hyatt Regency Orlando’s area recruiter.

The field trip began with a tour of the kitchens to learn about the different positions and how they work together to execute the chef’s vision. Executive Chef David Barrett explained that it does not matter where you start in the food industry, “If you work for the job you want, you will be able to move up and one-day achieve your dream job.”

After hearing from Chef Barrett, the students more excited about their careers and all of the positive changes happening in their lives.

“My mom taught me how to cook and I love it. Ever since then I have dreamed of being a chef,” said culinary student Karlen Franis. “Second Harvest has given me hope that I can achieve this goal and now I am very excited to start my career.”

Throughout the day, students visited different kitchens on the property. This eye-opening experience helped some students visualize the types of careers they can pursue.

“I have always loved to bake,” explained culinary student Silvia Perero. “Being able to go into the pastry kitchen helped me realize that is something I can do as a career.”

The tour ended with the students meeting Jorge Daupub, a Culinary Training Program graduate who now works at the Hyatt Regency Orlando. He shared with the students about how he was able to get a job at the Hyatt when the program was over and how his life has changed because of Second Harvest.

“Second Harvest is going to change your life,” said Jorge. “Second Harvest changed my life by giving me the opportunity to train for a better job that I love. Now my life is way better.”

Many thanks to the Hyatt Regency Orlando for giving our students the opportunity to visit a hotel kitchen.

Read more about the many graduates who have benefited from our Culinary Training Program at

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March 1, 2019

Expanding & Enhancing the Culinary Training Program

Author: Agency Relations & Programs Team

A month ago, the Culinary Training Program at Second Harvest celebrated three more classes of graduating culinary students, all of which have gone on to be fully employed. With an additional 30 graduating students, there are more than 280 alumni of the program who have each created success for themselves and their families.

Recently, Second Harvest examined how we could expand and enhance the program to increase the employability of our graduates and increase the number of students that go through the program.

State Legislature Request

With the help of State Rep. Kamia Brown (HB 2623) and State Sen. David Simmons, we are requesting $350,000 from the Florida legislature to fund the expansion and enhancement of the culinary program for 80 students. The funding will provide hands-on experience with barista and baking skills. By expanding student knowledge and experience with different aspects of the industry it will increase their employability. Baking skills especially are highly sought after by employers.

Additionally, the funding will go towards a passenger van to transport students to and from field trips to potential employers and provide even more transportation for catering events that are staffed by students.

The Department of Economic Opportunity recently forecasted a 10.7%  increased demand for hospitality employees in Central Florida over the next 8 years. This funding request will directly address this increased demand with highly-skilled culinary graduates.

Next Steps

Second Harvest is currently waiting for the House version of the bill (HB 2623) to be scheduled to be heard in its first House committee — the House Transportation & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. Once the bill has been scheduled to be heard, you will receive a call to action to ensure it passes out of this committee by contacting all Committee members and asking for their support.

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