Kids participate in a dance class.

With the Closing of Schools, the Orange County Rescue Mission Springs into Action


The Orange County Rescue Mission is a vital piece of the Orange County community, housing and feeding 465 individuals each day. Central to the Rescue Mission’s operations is one overarching goal – to treat each person with respect and dignity while fostering an environment that creates lasting change.

A key component of getting their residents on a path of well-being is making sure they have access to nutritious food. In September 2019, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation awarded the Orange County Rescue Mission with a $5,000 Neighborhood Grant to support their children’s nutrition program, teaching kids about healthy food, where it comes from, and how it impacts their bodies.

While the Rescue Mission has always served breakfast and dinner to its residents, the 66 homeless children living on their campus had generally received their lunch at school. As the COVID-19 pandemic began though, and schools started shutting down, the Rescue Mission knew it needed to provide additional food for the hungry, active youngsters. They began preparing daily lunches for the kids as well as healthy afternoon snacks.

With homeless children having three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems and four times the rate of developmental delays than stably housed children, the Rescue Mission staff also knew it was essential to keep these kids learning.

In a matter of days, nine dedicated volunteers and staff jumped in to personally tutor the children, and they saw them quickly progressing! Soon, cooking classes, hip hop dance classes and basketball teams were added to the mix of activities the kids could participate in to help promote their physical, mental, and social well-being.

“To our supporters, like Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, thank you is not enough!” said Cathy Rich, a staff member with Orange County Rescue Mission. “Because of your generosity, we are meeting this challenge each day and helping homeless children adapt to this new way of life.”

The Orange County Rescue Mission has used the pandemic as an opportunity to not only keep their students from falling behind but to also provide additional support so they may exceed expectations during this unprecedented time.