Jennifer Moore: Spirit of Gainesville nominee


Published: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:50 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 11:50 a.m.

“Food4Kids is my soul child” explained Jennifer Moore a few months ago to a group of about 20 volunteers at the Food4Kids warehouse. The mother of four school-aged children and a Shands nurse, Jennifer is also the CEO and founder of Food4Kids Backpack Program of North Florida, a Gainesville-based hunger-relief program that helps feed chronically hungry school children on weekends in Alachua County and neighboring rural areas. Jennifer started Food4Kids in 2010 after witnessing intense hunger among some of her child’s schoolmates at Terwilliger Elementary School. Weekends can be particularly tough for food-insecure children, and many of them return to school on Mondays with symptoms of “weekend hunger” (general malaise, dizziness, inattentiveness and misconduct). By Monday, many of these children require a lot of calories to satiate their weekend hunger. It was the eye-opening experience at Terwilliger that convinced Jennifer to start Food4Kids. Bread of the Mighty Food Bank awarded her a small grant to start up the program. She was then able to supplement these funds with food and cash donations from businesses, churches and individuals. The program has grown from serving one school in 2010 to serving 21 schools at the present moment. This academic year, Food4Kids is expected to feed more than 500 school children. Recently, Food4Kids received a $25,000 grant from Morgan Stanley through Bread of the Mighty to open new school sites. Also this year, Food4Kids was awarded the Florida Commissioner’s Business Recognition Award for 2013 for “commitment to improving the academic performance of Florida's public school students and for their outstanding public service”.

Facts

Category: Community Service

About Jennifer Moore

Occupation: RN, IBCLC

Years in Gainesville: 40

Spouse: Martin Moore

Children: 4

What is so unique about the way Jennifer Moore designed Food4Kids is that it is entirely volunteer run and it is, as she describes it, a “true community involvement project”. Community volunteers help pull monthly orders in the warehouse, they deliver food to the schools, they organize food drives, they help with weighing and sorting food donations throughout the month, they help staff informational tables at community events, and they help with fundraising and site collections, among many other duties. Also, Jennifer has made sure that there are weekend volunteer opportunities every month so that volunteers who cannot help during the week can do so on weekends. More than forty-five volunteers showed up on Sunday, August 25th, to help pull food orders and label backpacks for the new school year. Working in the warehouse can be hard and tiring, but somehow when the job is done, it is gratifying to see the smiles on people’s faces. Many of these smiles are captured in photos posted in the Food4Kids website (www.food4kidsbackpackprogram.com). It is a group effort with many rewarding results, which Jennifer finds the energy to pull together.

As CEO of Food4Kids, Jennifer wears many hats and she is responsible for overseeing the entire operation. She manages the fiscal and administrative aspects of the program, including inventory and purchasing. She handles the public relations aspect of the program, including communicating with schools, presenting the program to schools, churches and potential business partners. And last but not least, she remains very involved in working at the warehouse packing and sorting and organizing, often times during weekends.

Jennifer’s future goals include expanding the program to include more rural areas and she continues to explore possibilities for extra funding, such as the Morgan Stanley grant. Her quest to end childhood hunger has already had a tremendous impact in our community and her efforts are simply immeasurable. Her work and devotion to the cause have made Food4Kids what it is today and she has achieved it by embracing and encouraging community volunteers to work together to help the less fortunate. This is the sign of a true visionary and it is in the best “spirit” of the Spirit of Gainesville Award. It is an honor and a privilege to nominate her for the Spirit of Gainesville Award.

Food4Kids parent testimonials (www.food4kidsbackpackprogram.com):

"I think you know how helpful this is but I have to let you know that it has saved me and my family. I don't know how we would have made it through the summer without this and I cannot begin to thank you for what you are doing and this marvelous program.

I would like to thank you and your team for the blessings that you have bestowed on our family! You have been a tremendous help to our family during this school year and summer. Being a single parent of 5 and working to support them is very hard, but you lighten my load a little and I just want to tell you guys THANK YOU!

It is hard as a parent not to be able to provide for your children. I have struggled asking for help but realize it's not about me. I want to take the time to tell you how much I appreciate what you do. I know you already know you are making a difference in the lives of many children, but I hope you know the impact being able to offer warm meals and snacks makes on the parents as well. Sometimes I feel bad when I receive help because I don't feel I can adequately thank the people/person who has offered it to me. Words seem to be too little when you heart has been touched. I can only send this thank you humbly to you."

Nominated by Barbara Martin-Hasty

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