To prepare food for elementary students to take home over the weekend to ensure they will not lack the proper nutrition that all growing children need in order to develop physically, mentally and emotionally into a well abled capacity in the classroom to grasp the many learning concepts and skills that are vital to their overall education. Third-graders at Village Academy, in the Palm Beach County school district, are given a backpack with nutritious food for the weekend as part of a program called “Blessings in a Backpack”.
The program, “Blessings in a Backpack”, is coordinated by Delray Beach-based Sound Tree Entertainment and is sponsored in part by Disney teen-star Jake Short, who visited the school last year. The “Blessings in a Backpack” is also funded by a $24,000 in-kind food donation from a local resident.
“By taking this meal home, they won’t be as hungry, worried and anxious about food for the weekend,” said Guarn Sims, principal of Village Academy. “Hopefully, now that the students are eating well over the weekends, we will see a difference in their readiness to learn on Mondays.”
“This is a life-changing program,” Mr. Sims said. “For some of the students, this is the first time they’ve ever had a real backpack, let alone one with food so desperately needed. With 98 percent of our students on the federal Free and Reduced Price Meal Program, the backpack program is definitely needed at the school.”
The backpack includes easy-to-prepare, ready-to-eat foods, like granola bars, juice boxes, mac and cheese, and oatmeal. Volunteers from the community pack the backpacks on Fridays for the teachers who give them to their students. Organizers are searching for a grocery partner to buy the food at a reduced price.
On the national level, “Blessings in a Backpack” partners with America to ensure impoverished elementary school children are fed on the weekends throughout the school year. The mission of the organization is for better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behavior, improved health and increased attendance all of which have been attributed to the success of the program in being a part of the solution of ensuring that elementary children are fed over the weekends.
A notable note regarding food and nutrition in PBC:
The School District of Palm Beach County is committed to teach all students healthy eating habits. The Nutrition and Wellness Promotion Team of the School District Food Service Department is committed to the promotion of nutrition education for students and parents and work with community agencies to promote optimal health for students and staff.
REF: PBCSD (Press Release) Public Affairs Office. March 2013.