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People Helping People Ensures Kids Are Fed This Summer

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The summertime is generally considered a time of fun and frivolity for kids and families. Yet for children struggling with the all too common issue of food insecurity, time away from school can mean time away from a steady and reliable supply of meals, snacks and essential nutrition. Here in Hernando County, People Helping People, whose mission is to end hunger in Hernando County by breaking the cycle of poverty among the people served, is bestowing Summer Blessings of bountiful sustenance on people in need.

“Our Summer Blessings program was created to continue the mission of our Weekend Blessings program of making sure kids still received food even when school is not in session,” explained Kendra Kenney, Executive Director of People Helping People in Hernando County, Inc.

Mark McClarty, program director, feels that the Summertime Blessings program is a worthy extension of People Helping People’s food service program, one intended to supplement Weekend Blessings, in which PHP provides easy-to-open and prepared kid-friendly food for children in Hernando County to help keep them fed over the weekend.

“During the school year, we provide approximately 500 bags of food to kids for weekend meals,” he said. “Currently, we deliver 250 bags to summer camp programs coordinated by the YMCA and other organizations.”

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These numbers, says McClarty, tell a powerful story about the state of childhood hunger here in Hernando County. “This is half of our school year numbers, which tells us many kids go without weekend meals during the summer,” he said.

People Helping People is taking additional steps to supply summertime nourishment to Hernando kids to remedy this troubling situation.

As the summer progresses, we aspire to collaborate with Summer Break Spot, a program that provides on-site Breakfast and Lunch to children from Monday to Thursday at various locations in Hernando County.

Our Summer Blessings program would seamlessly complement this initiative, and we are eager to partner with the school district, leveraging the Summer Break Spot program to reach more children in need. The Summer Blessings program, emphasizes Kenney, is a welcoming resource for any child in need. “We’ve already had several families come to our 1396 Kass Circle HELP Center to pick up bags since the first week of summer vacation,” she said. “Any family with a hungry child, whether they attend a brick and mortar building, are homeschooled or e-schooled, or not yet in school, are welcome to come for a bag, which is available on Thursdays and Fridays at our Kass Circle facility and also at Jerome Brown Center at the Parks and Recreation building in Brooksville. If anyone needs more information, they can call us at 352-686-4466.”

People Helping People, says Kenney, is determined to let no child go unfed in Hernando County. “PHP refuses to let kids go hungry in Hernando County!” she said.

Other People Helping People Blessings Programs include Sunday Blessings, served at 3:30 pm each Sunday at the HELP Center. Meals are donated by local restaurants, organizations, and social groups and are accessible to low-income families, individuals and people experiencing homelessness. Senior Blessings – Supplemental bags of groceries are provided monthly to low-income seniors in Hernando County and Neighborhood Blessings – PHP includes food, toiletries, tents, camping supplies and necessities to homeless individuals in Hernando County. Lunch is also offered on-site, Tuesdays, and Fridays at 11:30.

In addition to food, PHP offers a range of support services, including benefits, education, training, and resources, empowering individuals to become self-sufficient members of Hernando County. For more information on any People Helping People program, call (352) 686-4466 or visit the People Helping People Help Center at 1396 Kass Circle in Spring Hill.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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