Backpacks help get Head Start students through the weekend

December 4, 2018

The Food Bank of Delaware’s hunger relief efforts positively impact some of Delaware’s youngest citizens. Thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Morgan Stanley Foundation we are now able to provide food through our Backpack Program to preschool-aged children. Currently 441 children are participating at 12 sites.

One of those sites is the Lincoln Head Start, a program offered through the Telamon Corporation, an educational service provider. Forty children enrolled in Lincoln Head Start now go home with food each weekend.

This Head Start program, housed in Milford School District’s Morris Early Childhood Center, serves low-income children ages 3-5 years, including children with disabilities and special needs.

The weekend food program has traditionally served elementary, middle and high school students, but this new relationship with the younger students is off to a good start.

Family Services Specialist Maribel Lorenzo and teacher Ashleigh Rossey report that these children look forward to the Friday distribution. They receive shelf-stable food like cereal, snacks, pop-top cans and beverages pre-packed in bags by volunteers.

After the Food Bank truck delivers the bags to schools, distribution is typically handled discreetly – students in need have the food placed in their backpacks. Because each Head Start student is eligible for the weekend food, the distribution is simply handled in the classroom every Friday.

“The kids get excited about them,” said Rossey.

Last year, at peak distribution, 5,931 children received bags through the Food Bank’s Backpack Program. That equates to 170,942 meal bags distributed through 144 sites statewide. It costs $197 to provide one child with weekend food for the school year.

With one in six Delaware children considered food insecure, the Food Bank is thankful for the support of the Morgan Stanley Foundation. “Expanding the Backpack Program to preschool children is an important way for us to alleviate food insecurity in our state,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We appreciate that Morgan Stanley shares our vision of a community free of hunger.”

Visit www.fbd.org to learn how to support the Backpack Program and the Food Bank of Delaware’s other programs.

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