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How can any child concentrate on education when they are hungry? Poverty causes many students to arrive at school Monday morning without adequate nourishment. Simply put, these children are hungry and in some cases have not eaten since Friday’s school lunch. These circumstances create special needs and have dramatic effects on educational progress and self-esteem. Title One schools supply breakfast and lunch on school days… but who provides for them during the weekends?
Food For Kids is a Volunteer Center program that delivers non-perishable food to Title One elementary school children in the Carson, Compton, Long Beach, San Pedro, Torrance, and Wilmington school districts. The food is to be consumed over the weekend by these underserved families. Every Friday, Volunteer Center volunteers assemble and deliver shopping bags to the schools/students. Each bag is filled with ten (10) items of non-perishable food, for example: pasta, tuna, oatmeal, soup, applesauce, rice, beans, canned beef, peas and cereals. This provides food for the family for the weekend. Each family also receives one of five nutrition flyers provided by Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance and the USDA.
Each bag of food costs approximately $26.00. Donate to Food For Kids!
Click here to learn more about Pantry Partners, which provides food for South Bay children on weekends. We are looking for members with skills in these and other areas of building a community:
To see pictures of wonderful people supporting Food For Kids, please click here.
Below we’ve offered a few ideas in order of increasing complexity but also effectiveness to feeding children and families in the South Bay area.
1. Ask your colleagues or team to bring nonperishable food items to a group meeting. There is a list of suggested items at nonperishable food list. Then bring the food to our food pantry at 1230 Cravens Ave, Torrance 90501 anytime between 8:30 to 4 M-F. Our volunteers here will do the packing of the food and then deliver it to the schools on Fridays.
2. Put a Food For Kids box in your lobby for people to see. We can provide big Food For Kids boxes that are great marketing tools for you.
3. Ask leaders in your group to work with grocery stores to either make direct donations to Food For Kids or to allow your group to request items from shoppers. This works great with children or groups of people. Put up a booth or table, wear your corporate orschool colors and pass out this nonperishable food list to people who go into the store. You can add your logo to the flyer, if you like.
4. Throw a big team event to collect food and pack the bags at your venue or ours. This is particularly fun if you “adopt a week” which is over 90 bags of food (about 900 items). We provide the bags and nutrition inserts. Your group has all the fun. Then bring all the bags to the Volunteer Center. One idea successful with large groups is to have competitions to see who can bring in and pack the most food. It can be a fun team building event.
Alternatively, you can bring the food to the Volunteer Center and actually pack the bags here. We have the space for all the sorting and packing. It’s a blast for adults and children alike.
You are very welcome to come meet us or we can speak to your group. I do hope we can work together. What you do makes a difference to real children and is deeply appreciated by the children and their families. Contact William for more information about how else you can help.
I just want to tell you how much this project has helped our families at International Elementary School. This has always been a needy area; however, in the twelve years I have been here there has never been such a high number of homeless families. There are actually so many families that are in need that we have found that we need to keep a spreadsheet so that we know who we have given to and that we rotate each week so that we can help as many families as we can. There is such desperate need that we are not helping as many families as we would like to.
Here are a few examples of the families your program touches:
Maricela is a parent that would always help the school with fund-raising, PTO meetings, you name it. This year, however, her life has changed. Her husband and father of three had a major stroke that left him paralyzed. Maricela who had never worked is now working to support her family. They had to move to an apartment that was less expensive and his mother had to move in to assist with daycare so Maricela could now work. The family has really been struggling financially not to mention the heartbreak of seeing him suffer.
Another story is our little Isaiah who comes in late everyday because he is homeless and sometimes has to travel further to get to school. He usually has not had breakfast and sometimes has not had dinner because they didn’t get back to the shelter in time to eat dinner. We always have something for him to eat in the office because he cannot concentrate on school work when his belly is empty.
If you ever question whether your program actually helps, please know that without the food that your program provides a lot of families would go hungry. I only wish that we could help more but are so grateful that we could help any at all.
It is hard to tell some families that we cannot give them anything this week but maybe next week but we find we have to do that a lot these days as there are just so many that need help.
Again we would like to say thank you for all that you do and please tell your donators that they really do make a difference and without their generous donations all the little Isaiahs would go hungry and the families going through personal and financial struggles would find it even more difficult to put food on the table. Thank you again for all that you do.
International Elementary School
To watch a short video of local media coverage of both the needs and the Food For Kids solution, please click the image below.
To read a another recent story in the Press Telegram, click here.