Who Will Feed The Children This Weekend?
Since 2014, the Huron Valley Optimists have partnered with a national organization, Blessings in a Backpack (www.blessingsinabackpack.org) to create the local program, Blessings in a Backpack-Huron Valley.
As Covid19 has taken its toll on children in our local schools, approximately 30% of those children are food insecure. What is food insecurity? A food-insecure household has limited or uncertain access to enough food to support a healthy life.
Three out of four teachers say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school hungry. The consequences of hunger are much more than a growling stomach. Poor nutrition can result in a weaker immune system, increased hospitalization, lower IQ, shorter attention spans, and lower academic achievement. Children are fed during the school week by federal government programs. We want to make sure they’re getting nutritional meals over the weekend, too.
Our local program has a formal partnership with the national Blessings in a Backpack program, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization feeding 88,900 children in fall 2020 at more than 1,090 schools in 46 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Before COVID-19 our local program was feeding about 600 children every weekend during the school year. Because our local school system was able to provide every child in Huron Valley Schools with 2 meals, 7 days a week, our focus temporarily shifted. Every week we distribute federal surplus food to at least 50 families in low income neighborhoods. The limited numbers being served are only limited by volunteers with time and trucks available at a certain time to pick up the food and sit in the neighborhoods waiting for families to take advantage of this resource on a first come, first served basis.
In the next school year (2021-22) we hope to resume serving our weekend meals to at least 600 children in the Huron Valley Schools, at a cost of about $130 per child.
National Blessings in a Backpack has partnered with Quaker Oats and Ipsos, a leading global market research company, on a national evaluation project that measures program impact on a deeper level than bags and pounds of food distributed.This project involved various Blessings’ stakeholders, such as children and teachers, in the evaluation process. Surveys found that, in addition to no longer feeling weekend hunger pangs, children fed by Blessings experience the following impact on their lives:
- 78% of kids feel cared for by their community.
- 71% of kids feel that Blessings is helping their family.
- 60% of kids have fewer behavioral issues.
- 60% of children report that their school attendance is better.
- 59% find it is easier to learn at school