Weekend Food for Kids: Filling More Than Just Empty Stomachs

Weekend Food for Kids: Filling More Than Just Empty Stomachs

Feeding our Future at The United Food Bank and Services of Plant City



While many of us look forward to the weekend as a time of relaxation and fun, for some children, it’s a period of uncertainty and anxiety. Inadequate access to food over the weekend is a significant issue that affects numerous kids around the world and in East Hillsborough County.  Our community.   There is a pressing need for the weekend food program at the United Food Bank & Services of Plant City. The impact on children’s lives, and the importance of collective efforts to ensure no child goes hungry during their days off from school is tremendous.

The Reality of Weekend Hunger

During the school week, many children rely on free or subsidized meals provided at school to meet their nutritional needs. However, when the weekend arrives, these resources vanish, leaving vulnerable kids and their families struggling to make ends meet. Weekend hunger is fueled by several factors:

  1.  Food Insecurity: Low-income families often face financial challenges that make it difficult to provide enough food for all family members consistently.
  2. Unemployment and Underemployment: Parents who work low-wage jobs may find it challenging to afford nutritious meals for their children, especially during weekends.
  3. Absence of School Meals: School breakfast and lunch programs, which many kids depend on, are unavailable during weekends and holidays.

The Impact on Children

  1. Nutrition and Health: Weekend hunger can lead to malnutrition, affecting children’s physical and cognitive development, and leaving them vulnerable to health issues.
  2. Academic Performance: Hunger and malnutrition can hinder children’s ability to concentrate and perform well in school, affecting their academic achievements.
  3. Emotional Well-being: Children who experience food insecurity may feel stressed, anxious, and socially isolated, impacting their overall emotional well-being.

The Importance of Weekend Food Programs

The weekend food program plays a crucial role in addressing the needs of children facing hunger. This program offers pre-packed food bags filled with nutritious items that children can take home over the weekend. The United Food Bank & Services of Plant City works with schools in East Hillsborough County to ensure that food is provided over the weekend.  The benefits of such initiatives are manifold:

  1. Ensuring Proper Nutrition: Weekend food programs provide kids with essential nutrients, bridging the gap between school days and alleviating hunger.
  2. Improving Academic Performance: By reducing hunger and malnutrition, these programs enhance children’s ability to focus and perform well in school.
  3. Enhancing Emotional Well-being: Access to consistent and nutritious food helps boost children’s emotional resilience and overall well-being.
  4. Fostering Community Support: Feeding our Future weekend food program involves volunteers, financial donations and community members who come together to support local children in need.

Collective Efforts and Solutions

  1. Expanded Funding: Increased public and private funding can enable the expansion of existing weekend food programs and create new initiatives to reach more children.
  2. Collaboration with Schools: The United Food Bank & Services of Plant City partners with schools and educational institutions to help identify children who may be experiencing food insecurity and provide targeted support.
  3. Volunteer Engagement: Encouraging more volunteers to participate in packing and distributing food bags helps sustain and grow these essential programs.
  4. Public Awareness: Raising awareness about weekend hunger and its impact on children can garner greater support and empathy from the broader community.
  5. Increased Funding: Increased funding allows the sustainability of this program to continue.


Weekend food programs are not just about filling empty stomachs; they are a lifeline for vulnerable children, offering them hope, nourishment, and a chance to thrive. Ensuring that children have access to food throughout the weekend is a collective responsibility, and together, we can make a significant difference in the lives of these young individuals. By supporting and expanding these programs, advocating for policies that address food insecurity, and fostering a compassionate community, we can build a brighter future for all children, where hunger becomes a thing of the past.



United Food Bank & Services of Plant City

702 E. Alsobrook

Plant City, FL  33563

(813) 764-0625


The New Face of the Working Poor

The New Face of the Working Poor: Navigating Economic Realities in the Modern World
By: Mary Heysek, President/ CEO, United Food Bank of Plant City


The “working poor,” a term long associated with those who work and toil hard but still struggle to make ends meet, has taken on a new face in the modern world. With ever-changing economic landscape and shifting job markets, a growing number of individuals and families find themselves in the unenviable position of working hard yet living on the brink of poverty. The United Food Bank serves East Hillsborough County and has seen a large increase in people in need that you would not think would be part of this population. It includes teachers, law enforcement, warehouse workers, and the list goes on and on. In this blog, we will explore the emerging challenges faced by the working poor, the factors contributing to it, and the importance of addressing this issue.
Who are the New Working Poor?
Traditionally, the working poor were predominantly low-skilled workers in sectors like manufacturing and service industries. However, the new face of the working poor includes individuals from a wide range of professions and educational backgrounds. In fact, the United Food Bank is currently working with three local homeless teachers, single moms who have been priced out of their homes because of high rent. In today’s world we see:
1. Underemployed Professionals: Many college graduates and highly skilled individuals find themselves in underemployment situations, working in jobs that do not fully utilize their qualifications and          expertise. As a result, they struggle to earn enough to meet their basic needs. Some educated individuals struggle to find sustainable positions due to the major they selected in college.
2. Gig Economy Workers: The rise of the gig economy has created a workforce of independent contractors and freelancers who lack job security and stable income, often living paycheck to paycheck. Gig workers are independent workers hired for short-term commitments.

3. Single parents: Single parents, particularly mothers, face significant challenges as they juggle work and caregiving responsibilities. Balancing work and family commitments can limit their earning potential and increase their risk of falling into poverty. Florida is rated sixth in the nation for the highest divorce rates. Households now have to split the income and provide for two separate households.
Factors Contributing to the New Working Poor
1. Stagnant Wages: Despite economic growth in many countries, wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of living. This disparity between wages and expenses makes it increasingly difficult for workers to stay above the poverty line.
2. Increased Cost of Living: Housing, food, insurance, gas, healthcare, etc. have skyrocketed in recent years, placing an enormous burden on workers, even those with moderate incomes. The cost of food alone has increased this past year by 25% causing more individuals and families to be food insecure.
3. Job Market Changes: Automation and globalization have led to job displacement and the erosion of job security in certain industries. Many workers find themselves in precarious employment situations with irregular hours and little stability.
4. Inadequate Social Safety Nets: Insufficient social support and safety nets can exacerbate the financial struggles of the working poor. Limited access to affordable healthcare, affordable housing, and food can leave workers without the necessary resources to thrive.
5. Work from Home Employees: Although there is both positive and negative impact with more people working from home, it has changed the workforce, leaving less individuals to fill the open positions.
Addressing the Challenges of the New Working Poor
1. Living Wage Initiatives: Advocating for living wage policies that ensure workers are paid enough to meet their basic needs can help lift the working poor out of poverty.
2. Affordable Housing: Investing in affordable housing initiatives can reduce the financial strain on workers and create more stable living conditions.

3.Social Support Programs: Expanding access to social support programs, such as affordable childcare and healthcare, can alleviate some of the burdens faced by the working poor.
4.Education and Upskilling: Offering educational opportunities and upskilling programs can empower workers to access better-paying jobs and enhance earning potential.
The new face of the working poor reflects the evolving complexities of the modern economy. As we move forward, it is crucial to recognize and address the challenges faced by these individuals and families. By implementing supportive policies, and providing educational opportunities, we can work towards reducing the prevalence of the working poor and building a society where hard work translates to financial stability and a better quality of life for all.


United Food Bank & Services of Plant City

702 E. Alsobrook

Plant City, FL  33563

(813) 764-0625


Understanding the Three Types of Food Insecurity

Understanding the Three Types of Food Insecurity: A Closer Look at the Challenges Faced by Many
By: Mary Heysek, President/ CEO United Food Bank of Plant City

Food insecurity is a complex and widespread issue and affects millions of people around the world and in our community of East Hillsborough County and the eleven (11) communities that the United Food Bank serves – Plant City, Dover, Thonotosassa, Seffner, Riverview, Lithia, Historic Beallsville, Valrico, and Brandon. While the term “food insecurity” is often used broadly, it encompasses various situations and experiences that individuals and communities’ encounter. In this blog, we will delve into the three main types of food insecurity, shedding light on their distinct challenges and impacts on those facing them.
1. Chronic Food Insecurity
Chronic Food insecurity is charactered by ongoing, long-term struggles in accessing sufficient and nutritious food to meet basic dietary needs. Individuals experiencing chronic food insecurity often face persistent poverty, limited economic opportunities, and insufficient access to resources. Key features of chronic food insecurity include:
        a. Regular Hunger. People dealing which chronic food insecurity frequently experience hunger due to inadequate access to food on a consistent basis. This can result in nutrient deficiencies and long-term health issues.
        b. Coping Mechanisms. To cope with limited resources, people may resort to strategies like reducing portion sizes, skipping meals, or relying on cheaper, calorie-dense but nutritionally poor foods.

        c. Impacts on Health and Well-being. Chronic food insecurity has severe consequences for health and well-being, leading to malnutrition, weakened immune systems, and increased susceptibility to illnesses.


2.Transient Food Insecurity
Transient food insecurity is also known as situational or episodic food insecurity, and it is temporary lack of access to sufficient food due to specific events or circumstances. Because of high inflation and high cost of food and household goods, the United Food Bank has an increase in “new clients” who have never been to a food bank or who have not been to a food bank in a long time. Unlike chronic food insecurity, transient food insecurity is often triggered by short-term factors, such as job loss, unexpected medical expenses, or natural disasters. Key features of transient food insecurity include:
         a. Sudden Onset: Transient food insecurity arises unexpectly, usually as a result of an unforeseen event or crisis that disrupts household stability and resources.
         b. Unpredictability: Individuals experiencing transient food insecurity may have previously been food-secure but find themselves facing temporary hardships that affect their ability to afford food.
         c. Need for Immediate Support: Those facing transient food insecurity require short-term assistance to bridge the gap during the crisis period until they can regain stability.


3. Seasonal Food Insecurity
Seasonal food insecurity occurs when food access fluctuates due to seasonal variations in agricultural productivity, employment opportunities, or weather conditions. This type of food insecurity is often observed in rural areas where agriculture plays a significant role in the local economy. Key features of seasonal food insecurity include:
         a. Harvest and Lean Seasons: Seasonal fluctuations in agricultural production led to periods of abundance (harvest season) and scarcity (lean season) for food availability.
         b. Employment Instability: Agricultural workers may experience job insecurity during the off-season when opportunities for employment are limited.
         c. Regional and Geographic Variation: Seasonal food insecurity varies based on geographic location, climate, and agricultural practices in different regions.


Understanding the three types of food insecurity helps us grasp the complexities of this critical issue affecting millions worldwide. Chronic food insecurity plagues individuals facing persistent poverty and limited resources, while transient food insecurity arises from unexpected events and requires short -term support. Seasonal food insecurity is closely tied to agricultural cycles and regional variations. Addressing each type of food insecurity requires tailored strategies and comprehensive approaches that address the underlying causes of poverty, improve access to nutritious food, and create more resilient communities. By working together, we can build a world, a community where food security becomes a reality for all, ensuring that no one goes to bed hungry.


United Food Bank & Services of Plant City
Mailing Address:
702 E. Alsobrook
Plant City, FL 33563
(813) 764-0625