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Congregation Liaisons: Outreach and Servant Ministries Committee
Each Thursday, Backpack Meals for Kids delivers packs of food to schools in the Bellevue School District. These packs are distributed to students in need to provide food for the weekend. Backpack Meals for Kids is a community-based non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers.
Childhood hunger is a fact of life in Bellevue. One in five students in the Bellevue School District qualifies for free and reduced-price meals at school. For some of these kids, school meals represent the bulk of their weekly nutrition.
The idea of Backpack Meals for Kids originated at a 2011 meeting of a school district, staff, and community volunteers. Staff members explained the growing problem of weekend hunger: students from low-income families were coming to school hungry, tired, and not ready to learn on Monday mornings. It turned out that kids who received free school lunches on weekdays were not receiving enough nutrition on weekends. Community volunteers began with two schools, delivering packs of weekend food every Thursday for hungry students. Every year, the volunteer group has been adding schools and increased the number of food packs.
Each backpack is filled with easy-to-fix meals. A typical backpack contains:
2 entrees (like mac ‘n’ cheese, tuna, or chicken salad)
2 lunch items like peanut butter and crackers, ramen
2 breakfast items like cold cereal and oatmeal
Milk, juice, canned fruits
Snack items like protein bars, popcorn, raisins, trail mix, peanut butter packets, wheat crackers