ORLANDO, Fla. — Inside any school, the last distraction students’ need is hunger.
- Eagles Market open to students at Edgewater High
- Students able to get free food at the market
- Market to help drop stigma of food insecurity
At Edgewater High School, a redesigned classroom is now called the Eagles Market. It’s a place where kids can go to get food.
Basketball player Tristan Curry goes to the market for more than one reason.
“Even when I have practice after and coach Morane is the basketball coach, I come even after practice and ask him if I can get something before I go home. Because I might not have anything at home to snack on,” said Curry.
He isn’t alone, a lot of kids face food insecurity inside school and at home. That is why inside Eagles Market kids can not only grab food for themselves but for their families too. Everything they receive is also free.
“I love when someone comes up to me and asks how much something cost because I get to tell them it is free. And it is the best to see the smile on their face, because they just get so happy,” said Harper Self, Teen Nutrition Ambassador. “And they are like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s free.’ And I am like, ‘Yes.’”
As a teen nutrition ambassador that helps other students, Self finds the stigma around food insecurity has dropped almost completely. She said the trust among peers to try new food or ask for help is not as overwhelming.
“It is open to anyone which I think is one of the best parts of the market. Because you don’t have to be embarrassed to receive a little help,” said Self.
The whole point is more than just receiving food, it is also about education. That is why, once a month when fresh food deliveries come in, the teen ambassadors pass out samples to students during lunch.
Friday, kids got to taste pomegranate and learn how to prepare one for a meal. It’s a fruit Curry was very unsure about trying.
“But, when I tried it, it tasted a lot better than I expected,” he laughs.
Self and other ambassadors help students learn about portions and how to balance out a meal. The overall result in the last year and a half, organizers say, is really starting to be felt.
“There is a lot less asking the teachers for snacks and there is a lot more of being able to get it themselves, so establishing that independence, a lot of students get really excited to take home the fresh produce. Because their families get excited about the fresh produce,” said Cheyanna Johnson, School Market Program Manager.
Behind it all is Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and local school sponsors. The sponsors help fund the programs and Second Harvest provides the food.
There are 14 fresh markets at different OCPS schools, with more set to open. Help is always needed, to learn more click here.