According to the Center on Hunger and Poverty, "Hungry children have a hard time learning in school, have short attention spans and, suffer more absence due to illness." No kidding. That's common sense, isn't it? It's also the primary reason that schools serve lunches and even breakfast ... at a free or reduced price to children whose families can't afford it.
But what happens when those same kids go home for the evenings or on weekends? What about snow days and summer vacation? The fact is that many children rely on school lunches as their primary source of nutrition for the day. And when school is out-of-session ... those very children go hungry every day, even right here in the U.S. According to the USDA, an estimated 16.7 million children lived in food-insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2008.
Some of these children access local food pantries and the resources of nonprofit groups like Feeding America, that offer food for hungry families. But a new nonprofit group located in Lancaster, Penn., aims to alleviate hunger at its source by empowering participating families to better use their food dollars and assure that their children are well-fed and ready to learn at school each week.
Each week, volunteers with The Power Packs Project distribute recipes and the ingredients for a healthy, low-cost meal to hundreds of families in the area. The goal of the Power Packs Project is to improve the mental and physical health of the children in the program by helping their parents provide nutritious meals over weekends when the school breakfast and lunch programs are unavailable to them.
You know what they say: Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime." That's the idea behind The Power Packs Project.
What started as a program in one school has grown to a 21-school program in six school districts with several schools now on a waiting list. Currently there are 242 families being served. More than 150 volunteers at the warehouse and distribution points give their time each week to ensure that the participating parents have the groceries and the tools to provide complete meals to their families over the weekends.
Now that's a lot of fish. And a lot of well-fed children who would have gone hungry without this program. Check out The Power Packs Project website to get involved in this incredibly worthwhile cause.