By Wendy Coschignano Ford on Thursday, January 4, 2024

The Osceola Council on Aging (OCOA) was recently presented with a $100,000 Support Award grant from the Universal Orlando Foundation. This grant will support our comprehensive Food for Families Program, whose mission is to improve Osceola County’s underserved resident’s clinical needs, while also ensuring their access to food. “We are honored to be one of the 33 Central Florida organizations who received grants from the Universal Orlando Foundation. This generous gift was announced at the second annual ‘Celebration of Giving’ event early December,” said Warren Hougland, Osceola Council on Aging’s Senior Vice President of Community Action Services.

Food for Families, in partnership with the Osceola County Health Department, will support the expansion of two OCOA-managed food pantries in Kissimmee and St. Cloud, while also ensuring residents receive essential health and medical supervision, along with follow-up care.

“The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in Osceola County is excited to partner with the Osceola Council on Aging to address food insecurity. This grant will allow us to expand the emergency food needs of our Healthy Start clients,” said FDOH Administrator Vianca McCluskey.

These generous grant contributions are nothing new for the Universal Orlando Foundation. The philanthropic organization has been awarding large financial contributions to the Central Florida community for more than 25 years.

Through a myriad of innovative partnerships, the Foundation’s investments have designated monies for dozens of diverse, Central Florida nonprofits, thus creating decades of positive and innovative impact. Further, economic investment is kept local for the betterment of Central Floridians, in support of neighborhood communities where Universal “Team Members” (employees) live, play, and work.

“The Universal Orlando Foundation’s commitment to community care resonates with our overall mission,” according to John Sprouls, Executive Vice President, and Chief Administrative Officer of Universal Destinations & Experiences. “That shared vision for positive change inspires all of us. The work of our community partners also inspires us. We are honored to work together to bring positive change to this community.”

The Universal Orlando Foundation supports numerous Central Florida programs, all which provide basic needs like combatting hunger and homelessness, improving education, expanding childhood development, children and families’ programs, mental health initiatives, and of course the arts and entertainment. Since 1998, the Foundation has awarded more than $32 million in grants.

Other organizations given grants during this recent Celebration of Giving program included the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida; A Gift for Teaching; the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida; Children’s Home Society of Florida; Nemours Foundation; Orlando Family Stage; Quest, Inc; and SALT Outreach, Inc., a young adult led non-profit which serves the local homeless population. We congratulate our fellow recipients, as these contributions will support everyone’s mission to continue making a meaningful difference in the lives of Central Florida residents.

Personally, and for the OCOA, this recognition is a testament to the decades of impactful work undertaken by our social service organization. We thank the Universal Orlando Foundation for this grant which will further support the health, wellness, medical, and nutritional needs of our seniors, disabled adults, and disadvantages families living in poverty in the Osceola community.