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Weekend food program helps students in need

Evans explains program to ELC School Board

January 17, 2018
David Swartz - Managing Editor ( , Estherville News

When students go home on Friday, teachers generally expect them to have access to food on the weekends.

That isn't always the case.

For the past couple years, a local program called "Pack Away Hunger" provided food to put in the backpacks of children in need on Fridays.

The two organizers of that program are no longer in the community.

However during Monday's school board meeting, Estherville Lincoln Central Elementary Student Success Coordinator Kieja Evans said Demoney Elementary has partnered with Food Bank of Iowa to replace that need.

Evans told the school board about how the program works now.

She said that food is ordered monthly and the students who receive the food are based on referrals from teachers. Students are required to return a permission slip to receive the food.

The food is put in backpacks on a Friday afternoon. Items in the Food Bank of Iowa sacks are granola bars, cereal, milk, fruit cups, individual microwave meals, cereal bars, crackers and a juice box. These items are the same each week.

"I supplement them now with the Power Snack coupons for $5 of shaved ham and a loaf of bread coupons," said Evans. "They also receive a few extra items that I have to add to the bags each week. Those consist of peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and sauce, granola bars, mini boxes of cereal, popcorn, fruit cups, juice boxes, microwave meals, Easy Mac, soup, cheese crackers and peanut butter crackers. These extra items were donated by the local fourth grade Girl Scout troop and Pure Fishing's Global Day of Service project."

The students who take part in this backpack snack program may need it for a variety of family situations.

"It is really a great program to help us address some of our local food insecurity needs our students have," Evans said. "It doesn't cost us anything to use and takes just a small amount of time to put in place to help them. We know that when students are well-rested and well fed with nutritious regular meals they will come to us more ready to learn. We can't do as much as we would like for our tired students, but having these food support programs in place make us feel like we can help with hunger situation for them a little bit. If they are worrying about where their next meal will come from, it is typical to see them act out with different behaviors and become less engaged in the learning environment."



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