Head Start Backpacks: ‘ . . . children look forward to the bag”
October 17, 2023
At the Milford Head Start, 49 children are enrolled in the early childhood education program, and 34 of them receive weekend meal bags through a partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program.
“Some parents decline. They say ‘Give it to another family who needs it,’ “says Maria, one of the center’s Family Advocates.
In reality, probably every child in the program could benefit from a backpack, a bag filled with shelf-stable, child-friendly meals for a weekend. Head Start classroom-based education is offered at no cost to qualifying families, according to the Children and Families First web site. The program serves children ages 3-5.
Maria, who is fluent in Spanish, and her co-worker, a Family Advocate fluent in Creole, said for at least 80 percent of her students, English is not their home language; Head Start operates from September through June and keeps a waiting list for students. “We are at the capacity granted by the state,” she said.
Backpacks, typically distributed on Thursday afternoons, are appreciated, she said. “The parents are very appreciative, very grateful, and the children look forward to the bag. The children mostly like the food,” Maria added, noting that most parents want to sign the requisite paperwork at the time of enrollment.
This center, located about block from an elementary school, is the only Head Start in Milford. There are 12 centers throughout Kent and Sussex counties. “Lots of families are interested in Head Start. We prepare children for kindergarten. We get calls all the time about the waiting list. Parents want their children in pre-school. It’s an opportunity for interaction with other children, socialization. That is the foundation.”
To learn more about the Backpack Program at the Food Bank of Delaware, click here.