The KidsPack Program mission is to increase the number of area children who have access to healthy foods, and to increase knowledge about nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
The KidsPack Program aims to end hunger for area children by picking up where state-funded programs leave off. Through the KidsPack Program nutritionally balanced, kid-friendly foods are packed and distributed to local school children every Friday during the school year.
Instead of overlapping with the efforts of area Food Banks, the KidsPack program meets the food needs of children who might otherwise go hungry over the weekends.
The KidsPack Program reaches as many as 520 children each week in seven schools throughout Gallatin County. There are more than 3,000 (28%) school-aged children in Gallatin County who are eligible for free or reduced priced meals. Our goal is to assist all area children for whom government programs are not enough.
A 2009-10 school-level evaluation of the KidsPack program noted multiple benefits for participating students well-being including:
Additionally, schools report participating students demonstrate a better and more trusting relationship with school personnel and/or other students. Because the educational environment improves as behavioral problems within a classroom community declines, many of these benefits could be affecting all the students in the classroom and not just the children participating in the program.
A statement from an elementary school secretary provides a clear image of the domestic situations some children live and the extent to which the KidsPack foods are helping:
…there are children that take care of themselves. Their parents are never home, either because they are working, looking for work, or just neglectful. I would see these children come to school on Monday mornings, dirty and starving, for both food and attention. Here at school we can try our best to give the kids attention and food they need, but only when they are here. When the food in your KidsPack program started, these children were looking forward to weekends, whereas before they dreaded Fridays because they knew there wasn’t going to be a good meal again until Monday.
When asked “how having the KidsPack food helps them” here were some of the responses: