'Blessings' and 'Feed The Kids' programs supported by United Way

Pictured are, from left, United Way’s CEO, Amy Meek and COO, and Meghan Pitzer. Amy and Meghan are shown packing Blessings’ bags. (July 2017)
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Pictured are, from left, United Way’s CEO, Amy Meek and COO, and Meghan Pitzer. Amy and Meghan are shown packing Blessings’ bags. (July 2017)

Inverness, FL (7/17/2017) –- Citrus County Harvest has been awarded $40,000 by United Way of Citrus County. It is the largest grant to be received by Harvest since the creation of their Blessings program in 2009.

“The United Way grant will help fund two programs in the 2017-2018 academic year,” said Grace Hengesbach, Harvest’s Executive Director.  

“One is our weekend feeding program, known as Blessings, providing 6-8 meals per weekend to school aged children who don’t have access to adequate nutrition. Exactly half of the United Way funds will feed 160 students the entire school year. Students at Crystal River Middle, Citrus Springs Middle and Lecanto Middle will benefit from the grant.”

During the academic year, Blessings feeds 1,650 students each weekend through a partnership with Citrus County Schools, Inverness Christian Academy, Saint John Paul II Catholic School and Seven Rivers Christian School. Utilizing more than 400 volunteers and 20 pantry locations, it only costs $125 to provide food for a child during the school year.

United Way - Citrus County Blessings partnershipHarvest also operates Feed The Kids, a pilot program at Lakes Region Library operating once a week. Feeding 29 families comprised of 63, children this program is offered alongside the Community Food Bank of Citrus County’s Veggie Van, offering fresh fruit and vegetables to the same families. The program will expand locations and food service to include weekday lunches in 2018.

 “The remaining $20,000 will partially fund Feed The Kids. With 68 percent of children in our community participating in the free / reduced breakfast and lunch program during the school year, Feed the Kids aims to fill the gap during the summer months when access to meals is limited,” Hengesbach said.

 “The United Way Board continues to be committed to the work that this program brings to the children of our community and are happy to be able to support these two worthwhile programs in the coming year,” said Buddy Grant, Board Chair, United Way. “Supporting Citrus County Harvest and these two programs are at the heart of the mission of the United Way of Citrus County and by working together we can continue to improve the opportunities of our youth sand the success of our community.”

United Way of Citrus County and Citrus County Blessings have been partnering to silence childhood hunger in our community since 2013. In that time, United Way has granted Blessings $110,000 toward feeding our students.

 “United Way is honored to support the great work of Citrus County Blessings.  We are confident that this level of support will drastically improve the lives of the children served by this outstanding program.” said Amy Meek, CEO, United Way.

United Way of Citrus County will provide grants to our community this year in the focus areas of Health, Income, Education, Basic Needs and Veterans Services.

About Citrus County Harvest, Inc.

Citrus County Harvest is a small, local non-profit most well-known for its Citrus County Blessings program. Through its army of volunteers and two paid staff, nearly 2,000 members of the community are able to receive adequate nutrition when they are in need. For more information, visit www.citruscountyblessings.org.