It’s difficult to succeed in school on an empty stomach. With the help of the Intercultural Advocacy Institute, which oversees the Hispanic Outreach Center, students at Oak Grove Middle School developed a program that tames hunger while celebrating diversity.

Operating under the student-selected moniker hashtag #TacoSquad food program, 35 deserving students receive a backpack full of nutritious and culturally appropriate food once a week. “It’s a hard age group to reach, because many feel embarrassed to have their peers seeing them take food,” explained Joanna Boruk, Hispanic Outreach Center Youth Specialist. The program is funded with the help of a Pinellas Community Foundation operating grant. Boruk credits the success of the program, which wouldn’t exist without your generous donor support, to giving the student beneficiaries control over the program’s design and delivery process.

“I have a lot of students telling me they need this, and it really helps their families,” said Boruk. “They feel like they have a support system in the community and know someone kind is watching out for them.”

Your support not only ensures these deserving students receive healthy food, they receive culturally appropriate food including rice beans, pasta, tomato sauce, corn and tuna.

“I don’t know how we would survive as an agency without the support of the Pinellas Community Foundation,” said Sandra Lyth, CEO of the Intercultural Advocacy Institute. “For me, it’s as critical as being able to sleep at night.”