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Food for Others Launches Weekend Meals Program

Food for Others creates program for children who face hunger every weekend.

At the end of September, Food for Others launched a new program to provide weekend food to needy children in Northern Virginia – the Power Pack Program (P3). These are children who get free or reduced-price meals on school days, but who face weekends of little food, or of food with empty calories.

Through P3,  Food for Others matches businesses or volunteers with selected elementary schools.  Each business or volunteer group picks up food at Food for Others and distributes it weekly to their "partner" school.  Food for Others provides the food and the businesses or volunteers package these items into individual bags – light enough for a child to carry but large enough to hold nutritious items to cover every weekend meal.  These efforts will provide needy children with sacks full of kid-friendly but healthy food every Friday so they have food to eat over the weekends when there are no school-provided meals to sustain them.

A recent study by Feeding America shows that nearly 70,000 people in Fairfax County are "food insecure," meaning that they do not know where their next meal is coming from. Fairfax County Public Schools provided free or reduced-price meals to approximately 40,000 children – 24 percent of the school population – in 2010-2011, and the school system projects providing meals to 45,000 children in this 2011-2012 school year.

These children go home to their low-income families on the weekends and too often face uncertainty as to where their food for the weekend will come from.  Educators and child-health experts know that when children have access to regular healthy meals, they are healthier, perform better in school, and have fewer behavioral issues. And of course the effects of persistent hunger follow them for the rest of their lives. Through Food for Others’ P3 partnerships, the Northern Virginia community is working together to ensure that our children are able to eat regular healthy meals.

Food for Others expects P3 to grow, and is looking for more businesses and other organizations willing to partner with a nearby school. Of course, donations of food for the program and funds for food purchases are needed too.  Potential partners or donors should contact Nikki Clifford at 703-207-9173 about becoming a part of this effort, or with any questions about the program. Or visit the Food for Others website at www.foodforothers.org.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

R. October 02, 2011 at 04:50 PM
At Langston Hughes Middle School in Reston, one of the teachers organized a "Friday backpack" program where the kids in need would come and pick up a weekend's supply of food. Since it was in a backpack, nobody had to know what it was but them. That same teacher had a Thanksgiving basket program for 25 families, usually dipping into her own pocket to supply turkeys and all the rest for a holiday meal for needy families. No need to go to Appalachia for needy people. They are here amongst us in great numbers, even in our high end county. God bless that teacher and so many others like her! Food for Others is a wonderful organization. It is so convenient to donate food to them. Their warehouse is in an industrial park right off of Prosperity. All you have to do is pull up to the loading dock and offload supplies. If you are cleaning out your cupboards, moving, or have a bumper crop in your garden, all those goods are welcome. It is quick, easy, and tax deductible. Seeing families coming up to the loading dock to pick up their boxes of food makes it all worthwhile.

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