Because sometimes all we can do is bail faster, given the tools available, a message from commentor MomSense:
Last night I posted on an open thread about my son telling me about a boy in his class who goes without snack at school and receives food every Friday as part of the backpack program. Some other commenters expressed an interest in ways they could help. I heard from my son’s teacher and we can solve the snack problem. There are some parents who are going to send extra snacks with our children every week so that the teachers can make sure all the students have something. My son’s teacher is a total rock star! She knew exactly who to put me in touch with and how to make this happen.
As I learned more about the backpack program, however I learned that in my area there are about 1,000 students who show up at school hungry every Monday morning. The Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program is trying to take care of 200 of these students at a cost of $250 for the school year – so about $50,000. Of course this is happening in towns and cities all across the country and will only get worse as SNAP benefits are slashed. I feel like as a nation, we keep making decisions that harm our children while refusing to feel responsible for the consequences so we keep pushing expectations and accountability down to them – work hard in school, get good grades, behave, prove yourselves on standardized tests and we get to pretend that we care about our kids. How are kids supposed to do well in school with hungry tummies??
Info about Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Backpack program.
To donate to the backpack program you have to click the link for “Program”, then “Other” on the drop down menu, then check the box and write backpack in the space available.
And here is a link to a national site so that people can find the backpack program near them.
I know that as a family we are going to start volunteering to put the packages together in addition to our regular food donations.
Anyone else want to share suggestions, links, programs?
One suggestion: find a local bakery that would be willing to donate its leftover or day-old items to this cause. Sometimes a lot of that just gets wasted without a place for it to go.
Constantly claiming these things should be taken care of with charity, then cutting wages, too!
We have this backpack program here, too. It has just come on my radar and they are promoting it very heavily at Whole Foods in conjuction with the local schools. I’m going to be donating to this project as well. Thank you for putting this up here.
I suggest you give some thought to supporting shopping food pantries that allow people to draw food at need (rather than limiting service to once a month) so that every family in your neighborhod has access to food they need all month long. If there are hungry children in your classes, they’re coming from families with hungry adults, too. And probably hungry babies and preschoolers and teens.
Also consider volunteering to help at any mobile pantries that charities sponsor in your area. Mobile pantries get fresh and refrigerated foods at minimal charge from regional food banks and hand them out directly to families in their neighborhoods. If there are no mobiles being sponsored in your neighborhoods, ask your regional food bank for help getting one started. To find your state’s regional food banks, visit feedingamerica.org.
@Yatsuno: The Panera chain had, and may still have, a corporate policy of donating leftovers.
@Pogonip: Still has it. There was a really good article in CNN about how their CEO did the SNAP challenge a few months ago. He was shocked at how he felt & the choices he had to make, and that was just dealing with food. If anything I think that program is expanding out.
Thank you, Anne!!
I know that MidCoast Hunger Prevention has a food bank, a food pantry where families can shop every 14 days, a soup kitchen and some other programs. I think a lot of these organizations are trying to provide many ways for people to get food depending on their situation.
This in a nation where overweight pets are front page news at a national paper. How exceptional.
@scav: Overweight cats and dogs are because they are being fed grains, which they cannot digest properly.
No pioneer father ever came back into the cabin to exclaim, “Those wolves have gotten into the wheat field again!”
Good on you for FPing this, AL.
As a foreigner, just curious – does the US gov’t fund children’s school meals at all? Or is it all private donations? UK conservative gov’t has just promised free school lunches for all childen in the first three years of school – the backlash is ridiculous – but they should really be extending it to all school kids – wouldmake them more successful in school if they weren’t hungry, or feeling stigmatised because they get some free food off the gov’t – you know, the gov’t that bailed out the bankers.
@WereBear: Possibly, but then there are the high-end pet spas. Nothing against pets in themselves, but it does reflect a bit of light on national priorities and the range of income / living varience that is accepted as normal and even to be defended as right and proper.
@Pogonip: I believe Trader Joe’s has a similar program.
Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader
When I was a kid, we just beat up the other kids and took their snacks. It was a rough life, fighting for every single goldfish.
@greenergood: There is some food assistance in schools (about to go the way of the dodo like the SNAP program, yay!) but it is based on family income and there are other rules involved. It’s woefully inadequate and often misapplied among schools, but there is a bit of it out there.
I agree. This is important stuff.
Thanks for doing this. I don’t think most people can really understand until they’re forced to. People need help with food.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Okay, help a non-parent out here. Is this kid not getting his snack because he gets the backpack, or is the suggestion here he doesn’t bring a snack from home? Either way, it just makes me terribly sad to think about that kid watching other kids eat their snacks.
It doesn’t get much worse than hungry kids, in a “shining city on a hill” of a nation.
Mr Stagger Lee
@eemom: Oh we can spend money on bombs, and God forbid we ask the 1% to for a little help. And people talk about God Blessing America? Where is my Che Guevara beret?
Isn’t it about time we all started calling and writing our senators and letting them know that it would be unconscionable for them to go along with Congress’s plan to starve off as many Americans as possible? This post, along with the McMegan drivel in one of the threads below has had me fuming for hours now about the damned Republicans and their priorities. These people have no idea what it is like for so many Americans these days. Congress should be expanding the SNAP program, not cutting it!
Farm to School program.
Putting the two sides together benefits from parent participation. Approach a local farmer that might be interested in this, bring it up through your PTA, make it easy for the administration to do. If we can do it in the heart of the OC, you can too.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
There are a lot of families who can’t afford snacks. The backpack program is a way of making sure kids get some food on the weekends when they are not getting school lunch.
Terribly sad is the appropriate way to feel. Ugh.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@MomSense: Thanks, I wasn’t sure if it was some question of resource allocation, i.e. the kid and his family had to choose between the school provided snack and the backpack
Second Harvest works with the local Boys & Girls clubs and elementary schools in Elyria and Lorain counties in northern Ohio.
Your local school district probably has one, too.
A little bit goes a long way.
That’s the problem with the rest of the world. Their conservatives are more liberal than our liberals. They lose all sense of perspective on how to crush the poor and disadvantaged under the heel of the “free market”.
If you qualify you can have free breakfast and lunch at school. Elementary school kids get snack time, but that is not provided by the school.
The bag lunch program is for the weekends, when the kids are not in school and thus would not get the those meals.
EDIT: The snack time, I think or from what I remember, is up to the discretion of the teacher and thus is not an official part of the school day.
My Rotary club is starting a backpack program exactly because of this
Clearly an overpaid chairwarmer who is to blame for everything that’s “wrong” with American education.
If you work for a large employer that will match employee charity contributions, check and see if your local food bank is eligible. It looks like mine is, which means the Giant Evil Corporation will match my donation dollar-for-dollar up to a certain amount (I think it’s $100 per).
One of the elementary schools in our district pulls from one of the most poverty-stricken areas in the state. 80% of the kids qualify for both federal lunch and federal breakfast. The principal (an amazing lady) started a weekend backpack food program about 8 years ago because she knows that these kids are likely to have only two or three meals over the course of the weekend without it. She organized regular donation runs from businesses all over the county, but she says it’s getting harder all the time. She estimates that about half of the kids don’t have supper on a regular basis, so the meals they get at school are pretty much all they get during the week.
One of the girls in Original Daughter’s Girl Scout troop learned about this school’s situation while working on a research paper, and now she’s decided her Gold Award project will be to make a little cookbook for the backpack program and to teach the kids some simple dishes they can make from scratch, and the principal has agreed to bulk up the weekend backpacks with more produce to match the cookbook.