Feeding South Florida is helping one child at a time

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- Feeding South Florida, a non-profit organization that has worked to reduce hunger in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties since 1981, delivered bags of take-home meals to hundreds of students at Grove Park Elementary on Wednesday.

"When you're hungry, you're not focused," said Tara Devose, a substitute teacher. "You're not paying attention. You're not worrying about, "Am I going to study? Am I going to pass this test?" You're worried about, "When is lunch time? When is the next snack break?"

Many of the students at the school in the 8300 block of Military Trail are on free or reduced meals.

Each bag of food had 12 meals.

"There are a lot of mansions on the beach. There is wealth everywhere," said Francisco Velez, president and CEO of Feeding South Florida. "As soon as you start getting west of [Interstate] 95 you start seeing the reality. And, the reality is Palm Beach County is one of the most struggling counties in all of the United States."

Since 2007, approximately 64,000 children were living in poverty in Palm Beach County -- a 61 percent increase, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Last year, one in five Florida families said there were times they did not have money for food.

"With the way, you know, the times are now, easily, I can spend a check on food," said Kanishia Mortin, a Riviera Beach resident. "There are times the kids want, you know, seconds. We have to make big pots of food and, look, this is it. You know?"

On any given day across South Florida, 300,000 children do not know where their next meal is coming from, Feeding South Florida said.

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