Addressing the Crisis of Childhood Hunger
The Food Depot believes that childhood hunger is a crisis that must be addressed immediately. One in four children in New Mexico experiences hunger, a heartbreaking reality that affects us all. A child who experiences hunger cannot achieve his or her full potential; the consequences of hunger on a child’s social, emotional, and physical well-being are profound.
While simultaneously working towards long-term solutions, The Food Depot works actively to ensure that no child goes hungry.
The new face of Food 4 Kids
Food 4 Kids has grown up! The program began by providing packs of child friendly food to kids at school so they would have access to some food at home in the evenings or over the weekends. This approach reached over 2,500 children each school year, but The Food Depot realized that there were many food gaps affecting children. The food bank worked to fill those gaps.
- Afterschool meals (formerly Square Meals)
- Summer meals (formerly Lunch Box Express)
- School-based pantries
- School Area Mobile Food Pantries (SAMFP)
- Nurse boxes
- Food bags
Food 4 Kids Approaches: The Details
GOAL: to reach more children, across all age groups, more frequently with a greater variety of healthy food choices.
After school meals: Many children struggle to access food in the evenings. This initiative provides a prepared meal after school to children, bridging the hunger gap. Meals for this program are prepared by The Food Depot’s joint venture project Kids Kitchen.
Summer meals: Summer can be a time of significant struggle for families that are unable to make ends meet. Without the meal support of breakfast and lunch during the school day, many children experience increased food insecurity. This initiative reaches children at summer camps and in the home communities of children, providing breakfast and a prepared meal at lunchtime. Meals for this program are prepared by The Food Depot’s joint venture project Kids Kitchen.
School-based Pantries: Where there is a hungry child, there is typically a struggling family. Working in partnership with local public schools and other nonprofit organizations such as Communities in Schools, The Food Depot provides groceries including nonperishable staples and produce to families. Access to the pantry and food distribution is coordinated by school personnel on a schedule determined by the school. This initiative provides hunger relief to the entire family of school age children, including non-school age siblings and parents.
School Area Mobile Food Pantries (SAMFP): A mobile food pantry will be held twice a month in locations central to schools qualifying for free and reduced lunch. SAMFP will be run by staff and volunteers from The Food Depot and offer an array of non perishable staple foods, produce, and perishable items such as milk and eggs. SAMFP will be held at times that are accessible to working families, including evening and weekend distributions, with schools helping to promote awareness. This initiative provides hunger relief to the entire family of school age children, including non-school age siblings and parents.
*This is a new initiative and will begin in the fall of 2019
Nurse boxes: Children identified by school personnel as experiencing food insecurity can access food, such as healthy protein bars, fruit or hand-held snacks from the school nurse, counselor or office staff.
Food bags: Children accessing meals through the afterschool meals or summer meals program will be offered small bags of supplemental food, such as produce, to take home.
What happened to those packs of food the kids took home?
The Food Depot is committed to providing access to nutritious food to anyone experiencing food insecurity. A close evaluation of the effectiveness of the “snack pack” approach of Food 4 Kids revealed that the effort placed significant burden on school staff, was expensive to implement, and didn’t maximize impact across ages.
Beginning in the fall of 2019, The Food Depot will no longer provide “snack packs” to schools to send home with children. Instead, the food bank will focus on efforts that reach children of all ages and/or include the provision of food to the entire family. The Food Depot is confident that increasing efforts behind other components of Food 4 Kids will positively impact children and reduce childhood hunger.
Supporting Food 4 Kids
The Food Depot currently operates a number of programs throughout its nine county service area that specifically focus on providing nutritious food to children. Your support of The Food Depot’s Food 4 Kids provides meals to children.
Support of Food 4 Kids focuses on providing two critical food categories–protein and produce–to children who experience hunger. The Food Depot uses donated food supplies wherever possible, but frequently needs to purchase child-appropriate versions of these foods. Investing in Food 4 Kids is a choice to nourish growing children with these vital nutritional building blocks.
Invest in healthy children. Donate to Food 4 Kids: food, time, or funds.