Freeman Arts Pavilion donates art kits for children at risk of weekend hunger

March 19, 2021

Thanks to a new partnership between the Food Bank of Delaware and the Freeman Arts Pavilion, Sussex County elementary and middle school students will receive a Creative Nourishment Kit along with their Backpack meals once a month during March, April and May.

The Food Bank’s Backpack Program provides food year-round to children in need for weekends and holidays when school is not in session and federal school meal programs are not available. Backpacks are stocked with kid-friendly, nutritious food including shelf-stable milk and juice, meals such as macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and beef stew, granola bars, apple sauce, cereal and more. They are distributed on Fridays or the last day before a holiday or vacation in a discreet manner at schools.

The art kits contain an instructional worksheet in both English and Spanish, plus the supplies – art paper, markers, and a glue stick — as well as string for display. The ​step-by-step worksheets were created by local artist John Donato specifically for grade clusters to align with school curriculum and to encourage creativity.

According to American for the Arts, students who are highly engaged in the arts are twice as likely to graduate college than their peers with no arts education, said Patti Grimes, Freeman Arts executive director.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Food Bank of Delaware for our Creative Nourishment Kit Initiative because providing a variety of arts opportunities to local students, especially this year, is vital to their educational growth,” she said.

To date,​ five Sussex County school districts have requested ​more than 2​3,000 kits; the first shipment of 4,300 kits were delivered to six schools in the Milford School District on Jan. 29.

“The Milford School District has a tradition of embracing and celebrating the arts,” said Public Information Officer Trish Gerken. The district has developed a virtual space to display the student artwork.

Just as Food Bank volunteers assemble backpack meals for students, Freeman Arts volunteers ​have assembled 25,000 art kits that will go to students in five Sussex County school districts.

In the 2019-20, the Food Bank distributed 143,000 meal bags to 5,857 children in 132 schools.

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