Universal Parks & Resorts has always been committed to giving back wherever there is need, but we are particularly driven to take care of our local communities of Orlando, Hollywood, Osaka and Beijing. These are the places we call home, where we live, work and play. They are also the home of our friends, family members, neighbors and coworkers. Through donations, volunteering, creating partnerships, and offering our services, we target many areas of need, including education, hunger, homelessness and more.
For Universal Orlando Resort, this commitment takes many shapes, and one was formed 10 years ago, when Universal Orlando teamed up with Second Harvest Food Bank. This Orlando-based non-profit organization collects food that has been donated by farmers, grocery stores, distributors, food drives, and more – including Universal Orlando – and dispenses it to more than 500 distribution partners throughout the Central Florida region.
Universal and Second Harvest came together to create Bites, Camera, Action!, a mobile food pantry program that helps bring much needed nourishment to places where it is lacking. The Bites, Camera, Action! refrigerated truck is one of the ways Second Harvest has delivered 1.5 million meals in the past 10 years. But it goes beyond supplying food. “When the Bites, Camera, Action! truck arrives,” said Ed Colleran, Retired Executive Chef of Universal CityWalk, “you know there’s going to be food, you know there’s going to be fun. Most importantly, it brings support to the community.”
The monthly School Farmers Market further expands the service by bringing community organizations that provide resources and services together with students and their families to promote health, education and wellness. “Now, not only are they receiving food,” said Denise Hogan, of Second Harvest, “they’re getting wraparound services, being financially stable, social needs, education, jobs. So this program has evolved quite a bit from 2013.”
“The partnership with Second Harvest and our Bites, Camera, Action! program has really taken a lot of pressure off parents,” said Kea Cherfrere, Community Partnership School Director of Eccleston Elementary. “If our children come in hungry, there’s no way they can learn. There’s no way they can be taught or even behave. Every day as we meet that most basic need, it shows them that we love them.”