Kids Pack is a collaboration that addresses food insecurity for homeless and underprivileged school-aged children who rely on free school meals as their major source of nutrition during the week, but have little or no access to meals on the weekends. At capacity, Kids Pack serves 2,000 hungry children each week, providing food bags distributed across 12 school districts. By addressing food insecurity, Kids Pack ensures that underprivileged children are able to focus on school work and not an empty stomach, can participate and be more attentive in class, and have the chance to break the cycle of poverty.
Kids Pack is designed to
ensure that underprivileged children have the resources they need to engage in
school, learn, and succeed. Within this broad goal, we have developed three
core outcomes that are achievable and measurable. These are:
1) Underprivileged children have reduced food insecurity during weekends
2) Families have reduced stress from food insecurity
3) Underprivileged children do better in school, demonstrating improved: Attitude/Behavior, Attendance, Class Participation, and Grades
To achieve these goals, Kids Pack delivers weekly food bags to 2,000 children identified by their schools as in need of food during the weekends when free school meals are not available. Each food bag contains 10-12 nonperishable food items, enough to make up three meals. The cost for each Kids Pack is $3.00 per bag.
The Kids Pack menu was developed with a nutrition team from Kaiser Permanente. As these children live in a variety of circumstances that affect their access to help with food preparation, the food items must also be ready-to-eat or have very minimal requirements, such as the addition of water, while also being nutritious.
Food items are purchased in bulk and include the following (additional items such as cereal, trail mix, cheese and crackers, or fruit snacks are included, when available):
1) Chewy granola bar
2) Crunchy granola bar
3) Noodle soup cup
4) Applesauce cup
5) Fruit cup
6) Peanut butter cracker sandwiches
7) Goldfish cheese crackers
9) Pudding cup (made with real milk)
10) Bottled water
During the school year, hundreds of volunteers assemble the 2,000 weekly Kids Packs, which are then discretely distributed to students in backpacks at their schools. This decreases the stigma that students face around food insecurity while ensuring that they receive nutritious food for the weekend. The backpacks are returned, refilled, and redistributed again the following week.
Although Kids Pack is simply a backpack full of nutritious snacks delivered each weekend, for these homeless and underprivileged students, it can make the difference between failure and success. We know that when a child is hungry, focusing on their class work is much more difficult, and keeping up with fellow students who are adequately nourished becomes very challenging.
Based on feedback from parents and teachers, we know that Kids Pack is an effective strategy not only for ensuring that underprivileged students have enough to eat each weekend, but also to ensure they can excel academically and begin reaching for a brighter future. Within the 93 schools served in 12 districts, 92% of teachers report that Kids Pack has a positive impact on their students, 84% of teachers say that Kids Pack specifically helped improve their students’ academic performance, and 80% of parents say that they worry less about feeding their child over the weekend because of Kids Pack.
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