What We Do

1 in 4 children in our community go to bed hungry each night.  Some children won’t have anything to eat from lunchtime in school on Friday until breakfast Monday morning when they return.  This doesn’t include holidays and summer breaks.

1 6-25-21 WEBSITE MCC 12-2019 Potter family
6-25-21 WEBSITE 6-4-2020 hugs at WLG mkt
1 6-25-21 WEBSITE MCC Epicurean

Children who don’t get enough to eat, especially during their first three years, miss out on essential nutrients during this critical time of growth.  They will be dramatically disadvantaged and are more likely to be hospitalized and face higher risks of health conditions like asthma and anemia, developing compromised immune systems.

Children facing hunger struggle in school and beyond.  They are more likely to repeat a grade in elementary school, experience developmental issues with motor skills and language, along with potential behavioral problems.  As they get older, increased crime has been linked to hunger too.  Children who don’t have enough to eat are destined to do worse academically and socially.

Children who face hunger come from families who face hunger too. According to Feeding America,  84% of households served by Feeding  America report buying the cheapest food instead of healthy food in order to provide enough to eat.   25% of children in these households are at risk and may be forced to rely exclusively on hunger relief provided by organizations like Feeding America to make ends meet.    Where Love Grows helps to close the gap through our family dinner night events and cooking programs.

Family Dinner Night Events

6-25-21 WEBSITE 11-21-19 Potter Thanksgiving

Where Love Grows hosted its first family dinner night January 15, 2013. The original intent was to share the tradition of the “family dinner table”.   A home-cooked meal was prepared for 70 children.  Where Love Grows served over 100 meals.  The students responded positively knowing they were served with love and kindness, resulting in engaging conversations and the opportunity to learn about the children. That night, Where Love Grows witnessed childhood hunger first-hand, learning 1 in 4 children in Hillsborough County live each day with food insecurity.  This is one of the highest rates in the nation.  We knew we had to take immediate action. What was supposed to be an annual event has evolved into monthly dinners.  As of June 2021, Where Love Grows has served over 26,000 meals to children and families living each day with food insecurity.  We’ve learned our dinners are so much more than a family style meal. Everyone involved feels the bonds being created as they are served with love and relationships grow.  With federal programs in place to provide 2 meals a day to children on weekdays and during the school year, the gap to be filled includes after-school hours, weekends & school vacations.  This is where our family dinner night events have made a difference and will continue to do so.  We are feeding a population that would not otherwise be served, filling much needed gaps.


Where Children Leave with Bellies Full of Food and Hearts Full of Love

Cooking Classes

By the end of 2013, Where Love Grows was restless, wanting to do more.  Inspired by the Chinese Proverb, “Feed a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime.” , July 2014, Where Love Grows Summer Cooking Camp launched.  The success of the program was well received in the community as 25 students thrived.  They were taught important culinary skills and self-sufficiency while using items they would easily find in their pantries.  The program was held at the Epicurean Hotel led by their professional chefs.

With the proven success of our summer cooking camp series, Where Love Grows duplicated this model.  March 2016, Where Love Grows launched our Mobile Cooking Program.   Mobility of the program allows the teaching to go where the needs are greatest without the challenges of transportation on the part of the children.  The program develops a long-term support mechanism for hunger relief. This unique approach provides necessary skills to children to be able to cook in their own homes. The program is making strides through a positive experience for the children we serve that extends to their families creating a sense of hope that did not exist. In 2019, we expanded the program to include a family version at Potter Elementary School.  Families enjoy the same benefits as they cook and create stronger bonds.  Since the pandemic, Where Love Grows quickly adapted, offering virtual cooking classes for families, hosting over 80 families through our new virtual model.  The impact is immediate and sustainable providing hope for a brighter future as everyone learns how to prepare and enjoy healthy meal options.   Since March 2016, over 1200 attendees have enjoyed a Where Love Grows cooking class during 3800 hours of lessons.

Mobile Cooking Program Evaluation:

In 2019, Where Love Grows Mobile Cooking Program was evaluated by University of S. Florida’s Department of Anthropology, Center for Food Security and Healthy Communities. Led by Dr. David Himmelgreen, through focus groups, class observations and analysis of pre and post mobile cooking program surveys, the USF team was able to provide invaluable data supporting the positive impact we witness each week.  In addition to basic culinary experience, the student’s experienced the following benefits:
  • Math and reading skills improved through recipe management
  • Personal development benefits include improved leadership skills, teamwork efforts and improved self-esteem and confidence
  • 79.7% of the students surveyed eat more vegetables post class.
  • 73% of the students cooked more during the program
  • 88.4% cooked more after completion of the cooking class series
The impact is immediate, sustainable, and beneficial to both the student and his or her family.  Teaching culinary skills through our innovative hands-on classes is a simple process that provides invaluable benefits that helps to break the hunger cycle.

Where Love Grows Inc. is a licensed 501(c)(3) non-profit. FEIN# 46-1566081

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