Oviedo, FL-based Duda Farm Fresh Foods announced Dec. 20 that it has donated 40,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Families in Transition (FIT) program, according to a company press release. The fresh produce will be available to children at food pantries at Seminole County public schools, and children will be able to pick up food to take home with them for weekends. The retail value of the donated produce is approximately $30,000.
The FIT program, run by Seminole County public schools, aims to serve approximately 1,250 (as of August 2011) Seminole County students who are homeless and approximately 42 percent of students who receive free or reduced lunches during the school week. The organization appeared in a "60 Minutes" segment titled "Hard Times Generation," a two-part series that aired Nov. 27 and previously on March 6.
FIT was established in April 2003 to serve the educational needs of children in the Seminole County school system who are considered homeless. FIT serves students who lack a fixed, regular and adequate residence; or have a primary nighttime residence that is temporary in nature; or is a place not designed or used ordinarily as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings. Once these students are identified, they and their families receive assistance with enrollment procedures, transportation to school, school supplies, free breakfast and lunch, tutoring if needed and referrals to local service agencies for additional services if necessary. Other services are offered through grant funding.
"With so many families struggling to make ends meet right in our own back yard, we felt compelled to help by donating fresh fruits and vegetables," Dan Duda, president and chief operating officer of Duda Farm Fresh Foods, said in the press release. "We are carrying out our 85-year commitment of giving to those in need."
"To help impact their present and future health, all children -- regardless of income level -- need access to fresh fruits and vegetables," Dede Schaffner, Seminole County school board member and FIT volunteer, said in the release. "This generous donation made by Duda Farm Fresh Foods will help ensure that hundreds of families in Seminole County have healthy foods on hand this holiday season. Christmas came early for us this year."
The donation of fresh produce to FIT is one in a series of steps Duda Farm Fresh Foods is taking to help ensure that children and families in the Central Florida community have the nutritional benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables. In 2012, the company plans to sponsor eight salad bars in Seminole Country public schools as part of the United Fresh Produce Association and first lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move Salad Bars to Schools program. Recently, Duda was accepted as a National Strategic Partner of the United States Department of Agriculture's Nutrition Communicator's Network. As a partner, Duda agrees to conduct promotional activities in support of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate messages. Through its Plateless MyPlate On-the-Go campaign and to facilitate its partnership efforts, Duda emphasizes the importance of smart snacking as part of an overall healthy diet. For more information on Simple Snacking, visit www.simplesnacking.com.