Hungry children aren’t just statistics or sad stories on TV commercials. They are real and all too many of them are right here in Kansas City, Missouri.
It is the mission of Feed Northland Kids, an organization serving school-age children living in Clay and Platte counties, to change all of that. That’s why, in partnership with Harvesters, Feed Northland Kids works hard to provide children with backpacks full of food that keeps them going – and growing – strong through what otherwise might be hungry weekends.
The strength of any community is the people who reside there. If we expect a thriving population, certain basic needs have to be met. Nutritious food is the most basic ingredient for life and Feed Northland Kids came together to ensure that our children, our future, have what they need to succeed, to lead healthy, happy and productive lives. Our combined future depends on providing a supportive environment for the most vulnerable among us – children.
Some simple statistics may surprise you. In the Northland, 34 percent of elementary-aged students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and one in five children live in a home deemed “food insecure”, which means financial pressures for that family result in a lack of nutritious food.
Feed Northland Kids started in 2009 to investigate solutions to this problem and ultimately crafted a partnership with Harvesters to expand their BackSnack program in Kansas City’s Northland.
A BackSnack is a four pound packet of self-stable food designed to feed one child for a weekend. It includes two cereals, two protein-filled lunch/dinners, two boxes of milk, one fruit, one vegetable and a few additional snacks. This program is facilitated through the school social workers, who help connect children in need to the program.
This endeavor has grown the program from 1,000 children in 46 schools to nearly 3,000 in 60 schools. But, there is a larger result than hungry stomachs being filled. A three-year evaluation reveals that students have a marked increase in attendance in school, improved grades, specifically in English (22 percent), math and science (17 percent) and less discipline issues. Parents report improved health and a greater sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
Check out ways to be involved at www.feednorthlandkids.org and like us on Facebook. Details about ways to help, including the 5th annual Bill Cross 5K Walk/Run for BackSnacks on Sunday, October 11, 2015 at Zona Rosa are also available on the site. There are additional options to pack BackSnacks, dining to make a difference, and other events yet to be created.