St. Matthew’s House is so very appreciative of the money raised at BaconFest that was in part given to us to help end childhood hunger in SWFL!
Currently, we have 21 children living in all of our facilities who benefit from the fundraising. These children and their families are positively impacted since their basic need for food is being met.
We often hear feedback such as, “This is my only hot meal I eat and I really appreciate it!,” “I enjoy the food and look forward to it.,” “Thank you so much for this food; without it, I do not know what I would do or how I would feed my kids.”
Pan-Florida Challenge is a charity on mission to end childhood hunger in Florida one meal at a time. Through our fundraising and partnerships with organizations like Kiwanis of Pelican Bay and BaconFest Naples, we provide meals to hungry children who do not know from where their next meal is coming with PFC Power Packs. In just two years, we have provided over 2.5 million meals to these hungry children right in our backyard. Every Friday we provide weekend backpack meals to 2,500 elementary school children at 36 schools and aftercare sites all school year long in eight Florida counties: Palm Beach, Collier, Lee, Hendry, Glades, Highlands, Okeechobee, and St. Lucie.
Hunger in local Florida children is at epidemic levels – one in four children go hungry right here in Collier County. Every Monday morning, some children return to their elementary schools famished and unable to learn, having not eaten since Friday afternoon at school. We call them “empty-refrigerator kids.” The Pan-Florida Challenge brings awareness and nutritious meals to these “empty-refrigerator kids” who go hungry over the weekends. What happens when hungry kids return to school having not eaten for 68 long hours? They lose the opportunity to learn on Monday, 20% of their school week. We set out to solve the problem of what we call “Lost Mondays” by feeding children through the PFC Power Pack Program.
The PFC Power Pack contains 13 kid-friendly nutritious meals delivered directly to the backpacks of hungry children every Friday. These meals exceed the USDA recommendations for proteins, calories, and carbohydrates for kids. With nutritious food, we will be providing equal access to education and creating ladders out of generational poverty.
Blessings in a Backpack is a results-oriented program, designed to feed elementary school children whose families qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Price Meal program, and have little or no food on the weekends. Better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behavior, improved health and increased attendance have all been attributed to the success of this program.
$100 feeds an American school child in the program for an entire 38-week school year. Every Friday, students receive their food in a pre-packed bag that requires no cooking or use of a microwave. It contains 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches and snack and drink. 100% of donated dollars stay in the community!
Presently we are feeding over 3200 children every Friday in Lee and Collier Counties. We are feeding in two schools in Collier County, Golden Gate Elementary and Shadowlawn elementary. We have many schools in Collier County that are waiting for us to implement our program in their schools but we are working to do as much outreach in the Collier area to get the word out! There are close to 31,000 children in Collier schools from kindergarten to the 5th grade that are on the reduced or free breakfast and lunch program. These children by economics standards are deemed possible food insufficient in their homes. These are the children we target, Title 1 elementary schools. Collier County has 9 Title 1 Elementary schools. So, you see, we are barely scratching the surface!
Baconfest money in the last two years has helped Blessings in a Backpack add and feed additional children at both Shadowlawn and Golden Gate Elementary schools. The money donated from Baconfest fed 25 children this school year 16/17 and next fall the proceeds from this year’s Baconfest will feed 75 more children every week! We could not have added these extra children to our program without this generous support! Thank you so much Baconfest!!!