OKEECHOBEE– A program that provides help to feed insecure elementary kids in Okeechobee is in danger of ending.
The Okeechobee High School National Honor Society’s (NHS) End the Hunger program currently provides food for 150 elementary students in Okeechobee every Friday during the school year. But due to COVID-19, students haven’t been able to raise enough funds to support the program. That lack of fundraising opportunities during the pandemic has brought End the Hunger to within a few weeks of closing.
The End the Hunger program in Okeechobee began around six years ago with the purpose of providing students with meals on weekends, because they otherwise might not have enough to eat. Usually students are fine during the week because schools serve free breakfast and lunch, but on the weekends when the students are at home they may not have access to food and that is where End the Hunger steps in.
The elementary students in the program are selected at the beginning of the school year by faculty and staff at the schools. Occasionally students are added during the year if a need is made known.
The high school students in NHS not only help raise money for End the Hunger but they also pack the food for the students in the program and deliver the bags every week to the elementary schools.
OHS science teacher and NHS advisor Wendy Reister says the program delivers about 316 bags of food to elementary students in Okeechobee every week, but that the non-profit nature of End the Hunger means funding is always difficult.
Okeechobee School Board member Jill Holcomb brought up the program at the Feb. 9 Okeechobee County School Board meeting.
“They are in real danger of ending that program within the next month if they don’t get some funds,” said Holcomb. “They haven’t been able to do any of their normal fundraisers. The NHS kids are out in the community asking businesses if they can donate any amount to keep the program going. It costs around $250 a year to feed a student, but even a $30 donation can help. It’s an important program and I just wanted to bring some attention to that.”
To make a donation reach out to Mrs. Reister at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit https://www.shorturl.at/emde2 to learn more about becoming a sponsor for a local student.