Desert Communities United Way
Kids Food Pack
Through partnerships with local schools, businesses and other community groups, as well as individual donations directed to the program, the Kids Food Pack program provides homeless and very low-income school children with backpacks filled with nutritious foods each weekend, when school meals are not available.
The goal of the Kids Food Pack program is to ensure that food-insecure and hungry children have food during the weekends so they are able to engage in school and succeed!
Kids Food Pack is available at this time in the following school districts:
Lucerne Valley School District
Apple Valley Unified School District
Hesperia Unified School District
1 in 4 children in this region live in poverty and are at risk of going to bed hungry. In fact, more than half of the children in public schools within the Desert Communities United Way’s service area are enrolled in the federal free and reduced meal program at their schools. Many of our children rely on these school meals as their major source of nutrition during the week. The Kids Food Pack program provides food to these children during the weekend, when school meals are unavailable.
Research shows that hunger can have a lasting negative effect on children. Hungry children have poorer overall health and, as a result, miss more days of school and are less prepared, to learn when they are able to attend. They are also more likely to have stunted growth, fatigue, poorer mental health, be withdrawn or socially disruptive and suffer greater rates of behavioral disorders. The critical connection between nutrition and a child’s development cannot be ignored. We believe every child should have the chance to succeed. Through Kids Food Pack we are working to ensure that they do.
DCUW partners with local school districts to identify the children most in need of Kids Food Pack services. These children are often living in motels, garages, or in sub-standard and overcrowded housing situations where even basic utilities such as electricity and water may not be available.
Every Friday before leaving school, the enrolled children pick up a backpack from a trusted staff person. The packs are distributed in a manner that considers the child’s privacy and self-esteem. Each Kids Food Pack is filled with non-perishable, easy-to-prepare foods that are high in protein and vitamin C, which are often lacking in the diets of low-income children. The child takes the backpack home for the weekend and then returns it to school on the following Monday. Not only does the Kids Food Pack provide the child with nourishment over the weekend, but it also provides security, consistency, and a sense of belonging.
Kids Food Pack makes a real difference! Children who participate in the program have consistently demonstrated improvement in their grades, attendance, behavior, and participation in school.
We have been told the story of Clarissa (not her real name) who lives in a family of such continual chaos that the only thing she is able to count on is her Kids Food Pack every Friday. With a big smile, she told her teacher that it makes her feel very “special”.
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