Island Harvest Food Bank recently announced it had received a $50,000 grant from the Morgan Stanley Foundation to help fund its Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program, a childhood anti-hunger initiative that provides supplemental food support to food-insecure school children who rely on school feeding programs, but often don’t get enough to eat when school lets out for the weekend. More than 100,000 children on Long Island qualify for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program. Island Harvest Food Bank partners with 27 schools in the most vulnerable school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties delivering packs of food to more than 1,000 students each week.
Each Friday during the school year, the Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program discretely supplies food-insecure children with packs of nutritious, shelf-stable food, which contains enough for two breakfasts, two snacks, two servings of milk and juice. Determining that if a student participating in the Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program is food-insecure, the entire household is most likely facing challenges with not having enough to eat. As a result, beginning with the 2019/20 school year, the food packs distributed through the program now include one healthy meal for a family of four, according to Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest Food Bank.
“We found that students who were sharing some, or all of the food from the backpack with siblings, or other family members, were contributing to nutritional deficiencies, contrary to our program’s objectives. Including family meals in the backpacks, we can now help address potential nutritional deficits in the entire household,” said Shubin Dresner. “Adding additional meals for the family in the weekend packs promotes healthier eating habits and allows families to enjoy a meal together.”
“We’re grateful to have received the grant from the Morgan Stanley Foundation that will help support our efforts in addressing the needs of school-aged children and families who face a daily struggle with hunger and food insecurity,” said Shubin Dresner. “Morgan Stanley and its local employees have long supported our efforts through generous contributions like from this grant, and from the countless, and selfless hours spent volunteering with us at the food bank.”
Island Harvest Food Bank is a leading hunger-relief organization that provides food and other resources to people in need. Always treating those it helps with dignity and respect, its mission is to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island through efficient food collection and distribution; enhanced hunger-awareness and nutrition-education programs; job training; and direct services targeted at children, senior citizens, veterans, and others at risk of food insecurity. As a result of Island Harvest Food Bank’s dynamic business model, more than 94 percent of expended resources go directly to programs and services that support more than 300,000 Long Islanders facing hunger. Island Harvest Food Bank is a lead agency in the region’s emergency response preparedness for food and product distribution and is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. For five consecutive years, Island Harvest Food Bank has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a leading independent charity watchdog organization. Island Harvest Food Bank is among just 9 percent of the organizations rated by Charity Navigator to merit the four-star designation. More information about Island Harvest Food Bank is at www.islandharvest.org.
—Submitted by Island Harvest Food Bank