Friday’s Children-Cincinnati

We’re taking Fridays to remind  people there are kids who depend on the school lunch program for their nutrition. We’ve asked our friends on the front lines of hunger relief to help tell their stories.

Guest post by Myrita Craig, Freestore Foodbank, Cincinnati

“One boy told me he had to spend a weekend with an uncle who had no food, and he was so glad he had taken his Power Pack with him so that he had his own breakfast and lunch food – he may not have eaten otherwise.”  Power Pack site coordinator. 

In the Greater Cincinnati region which includes 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana, the FreestoreFoodbank sees the daily struggles of childhood hunger, and the number of children that often go without food is distressing.  As the region’s food bank, we have started the Power Pack and Kids Cafe programs to ensure that as many children as possible have enough food to eat when not at school.

The Power Pack program sends children home with nutritious, shelf stable snacks for the weekends, and currently, we’re giving over 2,900 Power Packs per month in 30 schools. Schools that are eligible for this program must have 85% participation rate in free/reduced lunch programs.  There are so many qualified schools qualify that would like to join the program, and we are continually trying to expand in order to keep up with demand.

By serving over 9,200 hot meals per month at 15 after school sites, the Kids Café program sends children home with a full belly in anticipation that they may not be fed until they return to school the next day.  Hunger is a harsh reality that many children face, and there is an epidemic need for programs like these.

Of course, we can say much about our own work, but sometimes it’s best just to let those on the front lines speak for themselves.  Here are just a few of many stories from our school site coordinators who participate in our Power Pack program:

"I added a developmentally challenged Preschool student to the program today.  He was asked in class yesterday what he would do if he had $100, and he answered "Buy bread."  He cries when he gets on the bus to leave school because he knows he will be hungry at home.  We are so lucky to have this program to make sure that students do not go hungry."

“One of the kids in the program is new to this school, and he recently wrote a letter to his teachers to tell them how much he loves it here and how “good” we are to him. He said he feels loved because they care that he gets to eat.  When he left before break he told me “I love you” when he got his food – this is NOT the usual we see from this boy.  The program is making a difference for these children.”

Please feel free to visit www.freestorefoodbank.org for more information about our work to end hunger and further self-reliance for those in need in our community.

This space available. Do you have similar stories?  Comment here.

True Story from the Backpack Program

This is the second week we’re taking Friday to remind people there are kids who go hungry on the weekend.  David Proctor, director of communications for the Idaho Food Bank sent this in after our call for your stories last week.

 

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Too often low-income children depend on school breakfast and lunch programs to eat during the week and then must fend for themselves during the lean weekends. The Idaho Foodbank’s BackPack Program distributes backpacks filled with food to children in need every Friday so they, and their families, will have some nourishment on Saturdays and Sundays.

This story came to us from a teacher in Wilder, where we recently inaugurated a BackPack Program. Names have been withheld to protect the child’s privacy.

He was a little guy, the number-one child on the teacher’s priority list of kids she knew needed food assistance. The teacher took him aside and explained that she had something for him, and then showed him the backpack full of food.

He looked as if he had won the lottery. "I get to have all this food? It’s for me? I get to eat this weekend?" he asked.

"Yes," she said, "but remember to bring the backpack back on Monday."

He was crestfallen and confused. "I have to bring it all back on Monday?"

"No," she explained. "We’re going to fill it up again and you can take it home again next Friday."

"I get to eat every weekend?" he asked, his eyes as big as plates.

"Yes," she told him. "Every weekend."

"My mom’s gonna cry," he said.

The next Monday the boy was the first one back to school, backpack in hand, and asked how many days it would be until he could have more.

"It was incredible. I never felt more like a fairy godmother delivering gold to these kids," the teacher told us. "I loved it."

We need more stories or testimony to illustrate this point. Comment here or email me.