About this project
Your donation to this project will help provide 12,000 meals over this school year to Oak Park Elementary School students who go home to empty cupboards every weekend.
Feeding America Tampa Bay is the largest food relief organization in a 10 county area. In 2012, we distributed over 35 million pounds of food – or over 30 million meals – into the community. Largely, the food is delivered directly to other non-profit community based organizations: soup kitchens, church pantries, shelters and the like. We work with more than 600 agencies across our 10 county service area. However, for our community’s most vulnerable low-income children, nutrition programs must be tailored uniquely to deliver nutrient-dense foods at strategic times and locations to close their missing meal gaps.
Without exception, our programs are designed to assist with and supplement the student’s educational process. We’ve found in our conversations with educators, parents and other interested parties that the link between hunger and education is inextricable. Research conducted by Children’s HealthWatch and verified by countless researchers over the past two decades, on the impacts of food insecurity and hunger on children’s health, growth and development, shows clearly that food insecurity and hunger - together with other correlates of poverty - can dramatically alter the architecture of children’s brains, making it impossible for them to fulfill their potential. Hungry children do more poorly in school and have lower academic achievement because they are not well prepared for school and cannot concentrate. Food insecurity depresses both the starting point and the upward trajectory of a child’s education from the moment he or she enters the kindergarten classroom.
In discussions with Hillsborough County Schools we asked where is the greatest student nutrition gap– the answer: weekend backpacks to supplement basic food needs for the children and their families.
Need: The Backpack Program
The intent of this program is to provide the most at risk children (identified by school staff/counselors) with bags filled with food that is child-friendly, nonperishable, and easily consumed. The intent of these bags is to provide weekend nutrition to neglected or severely needy children who come to school on Monday unable to learn due to the fact that they have had nothing to eat all weekend. With this funding, we would support Oak Park Elementary for an entire year of weekend BackPacks. Of the 608 children at this school, 99.06% of them are eligible for Free and Reduced lunch. We have worked with this school for the past few years and their counseling and social work staff has identified that 100 bags helps cover the most vulnerable and at-risk children at their school. The staff of this school is highly committed to helping these children, and they are thrilled by the possibility of continuing the program this year. There are numerous studies we could site about how children who go hungry are much more likely to have long-term health problems, about how they are more likely than other children to exhibit higher levels of anxiety, irritability, hyperactivity, and aggression, and about how food insecurity affects test scores and all-around school performance. But we, the citizens of the Tampa Bay Area, do not need scholarly journals to tell us what we know innately—it is wrong for 25.9% of Hillsborough County children to go hungry. We need the help of this community to lead the fight against childhood hunger.
We would love to keep the Weekend BackPack program in Oak Park Elementary. Last year in across Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, we distributed almost 4,000 bags each month at 17 different locations. In order for the program to be more impactful, we distributed at each location twice each month instead of just once. Our goal for the 2013-2014 school year is to continue the program at Oak Park Elementary School and feed 100 children twice a month for the 40 weeks of the school year. This makes for a total of 2,000 bags for the whole school year. Each bag contains 2 breakfast, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners. Therefore this expansion would equate to 1,200 more weekend meals each month – a total of 12,000 additional meals over the course of a school year. The total outcome for the year in terms of pounds would be approximately 14,000 lbs. This would keep Feeding America Tampa Bay in one of the most food insecure schools in the county and allow us to build the infrastructure for increasing our support in each school year over year.
In order to fully support the Weekend BackPack program at Oak Park Elementary, the cost would be $10,000. The cost of the bags themselves along with the costs accrued for a small portion of the administration of the program and the delivery of the bags equates to $5 per bag. We can not make this program happen without the support of the Citizinvestor community. Please donate now to invest in the lives of these children in our community!
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