WALLINGFORD, CONN., April 7, 2016 – A $50,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation is helping provide food to bridge the weekend meal gap for food insecure school children in Connecticut.
The grant from the Walmart Foundation helps the Connecticut Food Bank source food it provides to more than 3,300 children in 22 school districts participating in the Connecticut Food Bank Kids’ BackPack program.
The Kids’ BackPack program serves low-income children between the ages of three and 13 and targets schools where a large percentage of the students are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals.
“Low income families struggle to meet basic needs and are often food insecure,” said Connecticut Food Bank Interim CEO Paul O’Leary. “The food we provide through this program can help a family avoid making choices between food and other necessities, like rent, heat or medical care.”
Working with school staff who identify children at risk for hunger, the Connecticut Food Bank provides packages of kid-friendly, shelf stable and easy to prepare foods that are discretely placed in students’ backpacks on Fridays, assuring the children have nutritious food over the weekend, when they are unable to access free or reduced-price meals at school.
O’Leary said the food provided in the backpacks is selected for its appeal to children and high nutritional value, as well for ease of storage and preparation. The food is packaged with age-appropriate nutrition education materials that are entertaining and promote good nutrition and healthy eating habits. “Some of the materials have included coloring activities and puzzles. The aim is to help children get the nutrition they need to grow and learn, as well to develop eating behaviors that will have an impact on future health.”
O’Leary said the grant is the most recent of several grants from the Walmart Foundation in support of the Kids’ BackPack program since 2009 totaling nearly half a million dollars. “The support from the Walmart Foundation has had a tremendous impact on our ability to build this program,” O’Leary said. “We are grateful for several years of support from Walmart that have supported the Kids’ BackPack program and other work here to feed hungry people in Connecticut.”
About the Connecticut Food Bank:
The Connecticut Food Bank is the state’s non-profit leader in the fight against hunger and the largest provider of charitably donated food. The Connecticut Food Bank partnered with the food industry, food growers, donors and volunteers to provide enough food last year to prepare more than 18.5 million meals. We distribute that food through a network of community based programs to more than 300,000 people across six Connecticut counties. Visit us on the web at www.ctfoodbank.org, like us on Facebook and follow @CTFoodBank on Twitter and Instagram.