‘This helps me a lot:’ 2,500 families receive meals during Orange County schools winter break

OCPS, Second Harvest team up for Holiday Food Drop Saturday

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Public Schools and Second Harvest Food Bank teamed up Saturday to make sure students and their families would have food during the two-week winter break.

The trunks of those collecting food came open and left full as cars winded through the parking lot at Oak Ridge High School.

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Denise Smith was one of thousands of families in Orange County to receive free meals during the Holiday Food Drop on Saturday.

“Any help that I can get this year,” Smith said. “This helps me a lot. Thank you a lot.”

The food giveaway is a partnership between OCPS and Second Harvest Food Bank. The goal is to make sure students and their families have food to eat while school is out for winter break.

“Believe it or not, that two-week period can be a really tough time for people to access food,” said Greg Higgerson with Second Harvest Food Bank.

Higgerson said 8 schools across the district participated in the Holiday Food Drop. The schools were selected because they have the highest percentage of students on free and reduced meals.

Cars pulled in and took home boxes filled with fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins. Higgerson said he hopes these meals will lift the burden off families.

“For two and a half weeks, when they’re not in school, that’s a huge burden for families, so having this extra food during the holiday break is going to make a difference for about 2,500 families across Orange County,” he said.

Orange County Commissioner Mayra Uribe said families are still struggling to make ends meet. Some are still recouping from the COVID-19 pandemic, along with dealing with high inflation and recovering from two hurricanes.

She said these meals are getting results for the community by making sure no one goes hungry during the break.

“That Monday morning breakfast that they would get here is not here and the schools aren’t open because they’re with their families, so we need to make sure they have some things... during this break,” Uribe said.

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