Feeding Empty Little Tummies is dedicated to feeding Manatee County’s most needy – homeless students – one backpack at a time!
F.E.L.T. foundress, Jane L. Evers realized Manatee County had a dark secret. We are home to thousands of homeless students who go hungry every weekend.
In 2010 Jane introduced Feeding Empty Little Tummies to 3 Manatee County public schools. We now service 32 schools and our numbers are increasing. Jane’s vision to provide nutritious meals to homeless students is still being fulfilled by our dedicated board, volunteers and community leaders.
Throughout Florida, approximately 85,000 people are homeless on any given night. Manatee County is home to approximately 3,500 homeless – many of these children. Each child in the F.E.L.T. backpack program is pre-qualified by Project Heart. Project Heart is the Manatee School District’s Title X Homeless Education Program, providing education related support services for students who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Project Heart comes under the McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Assistance Act. The defined qualifications are:
– Children and youth sharing housing due to the loss of housing, economic hardship or a similar reason
– Children and youth living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camp grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations
– Children or youth living in emergency or transitional shelters
– Children or youth living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations
– Children awaiting permanent Foster Care
In my six years of teaching, I have seen students who have trouble focusing in class because their stomachs hurt from lack of food. I have seen students who try to sneak milk in their backpacks to give to their baby brother or sister. These students are not able to grow academically because while at school they are focusing on how their family is going to eat later that night. Learning is hard enough without any other distractions. F.E.L.T. is a wonderful organization because they provide more than just food for the weekends; they provide security, comfort, and peace of mind to a family each and every week.