Reflection is an enjoyable experience. When Food Backpacks 4 Kids was first launched in 2009, nearly 2200 students in the Peninsula School District qualified for the free/reduced lunch program. This school year, the number is 1674. We like it when numbers decline – quite a different attitude from for-profit organizations. Yet, the numbers reflect that we still have a lot of work to do in order to meet the hunger needs of children and youth in our community.
Founded in 2009, FB4K has continued the work to meet the needs of food insecure students, packing an average of 400 backpacks each week and distributing them to each of the 15 schools in the Peninsula School District. With the exception of one part-time office administrator, we are entirely volunteer run. Our operational budget comes from fundraisers, the generosity of the local community, small grants from local foundations, service clubs and individuals. Eventually we became the first backpack program in the State of Washington to be granted eligibility for commodities from the Emergency Food Network and soon became the recipient of their silver spoon award as a result of our efforts, the first (and only) food backpack program to be so honored. FB4K is also the recipient of the Washington Association of School Administrators Leadership Award.
This winter we have launched an effort to encourage more families to sign up to participate in a program that not only alleviates hunger, but focuses on meeting the nutritional needs to promote well-being and learning. This effort is sparked by the support received from United Way of Pierce County and the awareness of needs in the community through their Hunger Initiative.
United Way facilitates Power Pack, a coalition of food backpack programs across Pierce County, of which FB4K is an active participant. It is through this relationship that we are able to support each other by sharing resources, successes and challenges. As a result, FB4K was able to pilot the crockpot project and share that information and recipes with the Power Pack partners, after which United Way financially supported other program efforts to establish a similar program, leading to progress in supporting family self-reliance.
The most heart-warming reflection involves you, the community of supporters of the FB4K program. Without your investment in meeting the needs of food insecure children, we would not be able to continue to provide supplemental, nutritious meals. Thank you!
Karen Jorgenson, Executive Director