SMART BELLIES BEGINNINGS
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It's pretty simple. We heard there might be some students in Summit County in need of meals over the weekend, so now we fill bags with food each week and send them home. We work with local teachers and administrators to identify students who might need the extra help - although our program is completely self-selective. There's no need for families to prove they need the food... if they sign up, we're committed to providing a bag full of nutritious options.
We try to focus on nutritious, kid-friendly meals - we all need nutrients to perform at our best, and kids are no different. According to the US Department of Agriculture, more than 1 in 6 children don’t have consistent access to nutritious food. We're not okay with that.
Our bags are filled with breakfast, lunch and snack items. The idea is that these are items students can get at school during the week; we want them to have the same fuel to get them through the weekend.
WE ALL NEED NUTRIENTS
Our weekend bags or "backpacks" are our original and biggest program. This school year we deliver around 525 of these per week. Each bag has two entrees, two breakfasts, two types of produce and a few snacks. We aim for a 50/50 fresh to shelf stable ratio and try to hit all of the major food groups. Most important... we try to pack food that kid's can make themselves and enjoy from start to finish. The bags are delivered every Friday all year long straight to the kid's front door.
We started packing bags of produce and grocery staples during the height of the pandemic. It can be hard to access fresh options in the winter months, and food systems were tough to navigate. With our delivery program continuing indefinitely, we've decided to keep adding a bag jam pack with fruits and veggies, tortillas, cheese, rice, beans, pasta and other family favorites. We work with a few local farm shares to source our produce and close to home as possible.
This program is as much for our teachers as for our students. We deliver a bag of assorted snacks to classrooms at all of our elementary schools and counselors, nurses, front offices and classrooms at our middle and high schools. Teachers and school staff are free to use them as they please throughout the day when someone needs a boost and doesn't have a snack on hand.
We're talking all the fixings for a delicious meal. At both Thanksgiving and over the winter break, we pack up a box of ingredients and recipes for a nice hot meal. The past two years we've also gotten donated gift cards for our local supermarkets so our families can add a little flare and culture of their own. From green bean casserole to fresh tamales, these boxes are packed with holiday love.