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Jeffrey is an eighth grade student in Orange County, and is one of the many thousands of classmates who are eligible to receive free or reduced cost lunches and breakfasts because of his family’s economic situation. He is part of a growing percentage of Public school students in Central Florida who are eligible for the meals.
While he doesn’t discuss it with his peers, Jeffrey depends heavily on the nutrition he receives at school. To satisfy the needs of his rapidly changing body, he consumes as much food as he can during the day. Often, he’ll get a few extra bananas and tuck them away for later. This habit was developed out of necessity. For there is too often very little of nutritional value in the home he shares with his grandmother and four siblings when he gets home in the evenings. Most weekends present an even larger problem for Jeffrey, and on many Monday mornings he feels like he can barely hold his head up. While he is good at keeping his ‘secret,’ he knows that he isn’t the only one in this situation. Jeffrey has observed other students appearing to feel the same way he does. He’s seen the scuffles break out in the lunch line on Mondays when someone is perceived to be cutting the line and delaying someone else’s much-needed meal.
For at least one week a month, however, Jeffrey’s family gets relief outside of school. That’s when volunteers from the local Church congregation are able to deliver two large boxes of food to his grandmother’s apartment. Food that the Church pantry was able to get through Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Jeffrey wishes it could be more than one week a month, but he knows the program is small, and run by volunteers. He knows that the program is helping as much as it can with limited resources. And he is grateful for the help his family receives.
Jeffrey dreams of working as mechanic on fast motorcycles one day. It’s the reason he tries hard in school. But for him, like so many other kids, achieving dreams is an ‘if and only if’ proposition. Only if he can receive the right fuel growing up can he hope to achieve the self-sufficiency and expertise he envisions for himself. With a few helping hands, he’ll keep trying.