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In the month of September, Catholic school students throughout the Diocese of Orlando helped raise awareness and feed the hungry during Hunger Action Month by collecting food for local food pantries. With one in seven people in our nation currently struggling with hunger, the students’ actions make a big impact on those in need.

“It’s how we show God gratitude for all that He has done for us,” said Mark Bruno, middle school social studies teacher at St. James Cathedral School in Orlando.

Students at St. James were asked “How do you show mercy?” In addition to collecting over 500 pounds of food for Catholic Charities of Central Florida, the students answered the question in a collage of artwork illustrating Scripture and acts of mercy. The collage hangs in the hall of the school as a daily reminder.

The Peer Ministry at Trinity Catholic High School in Ocala led a Hunger Action Month campaign with generosity and spirit that helped collect $500 in gift cards in addition to food for Brother’s Keeper, a ministry of Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Ocala.

“Our faith calls us to care for those in need. Food drives like this allow us to teach students about the needs of our community and how a person can be in need at any given moment when the unfortunate and unforeseen can happen,” said Lou Pereira, principal at Trinity Catholic High School.

Santa Fe Catholic High School students in Lakeland worked together to “tackle hunger” by collecting donations of peanut butter and jelly at all home football games during the month of September. Their donations will go to the Agape Food Bank in Lakeland, a program of Catholic Charities of Central Florida that serves an area where one in six people struggle with food insecurity and 70% of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch.

Ascension Catholic School in Melbourne made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the Daily Bread food pantry and collected cereal boxes for Catholic Charities in Brevard County. In Volusia County, St. Brendan Catholic School students held a “cangineering” event with over 1,200 that cans they collected during Hunger Action Month, using the cans to create sculptures that reflected the environment. Fr. Lopez Catholic High School in Daytona Beach donated over 3,000 pounds of food.

Other schools incorporated Hunger Action Month into their lesson plans to help connect faith and the needs of the community with their daily class work. In Winter Haven, students at St. Joseph Catholic School learned how to calculate the number of people who are fed by the pounds of food which are collected.  In celebration of their 60th Anniversary, St. Joseph launched 60 Days of Giving leading up to Thanksgiving. Each week students are collecting a different food item for Catholic Charities. During week one, they collected 1,121 cans of tuna which provides 2,138 servings.

“Our goal is for service to become second nature to our students so they can carry that with them all their lives,” said Tammi Haas, Principal at St. Joseph Catholic School.

Gary Tester, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Central Florida, is grateful for the tremendous response to Hunger Action Month.

“We are so blessed by the students and teachers who actively support our food pantries through their donations and volunteer hours.”

To help feed the hungry through Catholic Charities of Central Florida, collect needed food items or volunteer in a local food pantry. Visit: http://cflcc.org/volunteer for more information.