Category Archives: Children's Nutrition

Backpacks are a hit at Reily Brown Elementary School

Barbara Smith, a Paraprofessional, at Reily Brown Elementary, helps with the school's weekly backpack distribution!

Barbara Smith, a Paraprofessional, at Reily Brown Elementary, helps with the school’s weekly backpack distribution!

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

More than half the students at W. Reily Brown Elementary School get a backpack full of weekend meals to take home with them each Friday.

Dr. Wendy Whitehurst, the school’s assistant principal, said the school on Dover’s south side, has been participating in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program since 2010.

The food, she said, really makes a difference in the students’ lives.

“We realized that 77 percent of the 409 students live in poverty,” she said, so parents are offered an opportunity to enroll their children into the program.

Here’s how it works: At-risk children are identified by school personnel, and it’s called the Backpack Program because a plastic bag filled with nutritionally sound and kid-friendly food, enough for the weekend, are placed in a child’s backpack.

During the 2013-14 school year, 4,692 children in Delaware received weekend food through this backpack program at 125 sites state-wide.

At first, Reily Brown’s school administrators were a bit concerned that those students receiving the bag of food might be stigmatized.

Actually, it’s been the opposite: everyone wants to be a Backpack Buddy.

Each school in the program handles the distribution a bit differently, based on staffing and volunteers. Food Bank of Delaware trucks deliver the backpacks to each school every week. At Reily Brown, custodians place boxes next to the classroom door; the teachers indicate the amount by a sticky note placed outside the door.

“It’s really helped many of our students,” said Dr. Whitehurst.

“We have heard teachers say that it’s a blessing. It’s a necessity. We’re a 100 percent Title 1 program. If the parents feel they need it. We make sure they get it,” she added.

In addition, the school takes advantage of the Food Bank’s After-School Nutrition Program. Dr. Whitehurst said each Tuesday and Thursday students participate in a phonics/ reading program.

“They get a snack and a drink, and then they go to their lesson,” she said.

“They really look forward to it, and it’s appreciated.”

To learn more about the Backpack Program, visit http://www.fbd.org/program/children%E2%80%99s-nutrition-program/backpack-program/.

Leave a comment

Filed under Children's Nutrition, Hunger-Relief Partners

Kickin’ it with Calcium at Bancroft Elementary

Who doesn’t want strong bones and muscles? Fourth graders at Bancroft Elementary were certainly excited about the prospect of having strong bones and muscles from consuming more calcium! A group of 12 students participated in Community Nutrition Educator Alyssa Atanacio’s series of Kickin’ it with Calcium classes last month.

The three-part interactive class focuses on nutrition education activities and a physical activity demonstration to encourage children to increase their consumption of calcium and exercise.

Alyssa, one of our registered dieticians, started the class with a refresher from the last two classes. She asked the students a series of questions about the importance of calcium. For each question correct, the students received a milk mustache sticker. The student with the most mustache stickers by the end of the class got to pick the first prize at the end of class! Alyssa’s group remembered quite a bit about calcium from their last two sessions.

The first class in the series of three focuses on the role of calcium in the body, dairy and non-dairy sources of calcium, such as spinach, broccoli and almonds, the amount of dairy kids need, the role of Vitamin D and the importance of cardiovascular exercise. Special activities for session one include Simon Says using cardio exercises and a C is for Calcium worksheet where children identify foods containing calcium. Session two includes a review and the importance of strength exercises, such as sit-ups, push-ups and more!

Each class concludes with a special calcium-rich treat such as mozzarella cheese sticks, yogurt/yogurt parfaits or chocolate tofu mouse.

Session three’s special snack at Bancroft was a fruit smoothie served in a special Kickin’ it with Calcium cup, which they got to keep!

But before the kids got their special treat, they must be engaged throughout the session. To show the importance of flexibility, Alyssa led the students through a quick stretching and yoga routine. The kids were excited to show off their best tree and warrior poses!

At the end of the class, Alyssa poured the smoothies for each student. At first a few were apprehensive to taste their strawberry yogurt smoothie as first.

“This tastes sour,” said one student.

“I don’t think I’ll like it,” said another.

“You’ll like it,” Alyssa said encouragingly.

After some apprehension, slurping sounds started to fill the room; within minutes the cups were dry, and students were asking for seconds! One student even described the smoothie as “heavenly!”

To learn more about children’s nutrition education programs at the Food Bank of Delaware, please visit http://www.fbd.org/program/snap-education.

Check out some more pictures from Kickin’ it with Calcium at Bancroft!

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Children's Nutrition, Nutrition, Programs

Entries for Coming Together Multimedia Creative Challenge due April 3

The Food Bank of Delaware and Brae’s Brown Bags’ are encouraging Delaware students to use their creativity to help spark community change. Entries for the first-ever Coming Together Multimedia Creative Challenge are due April 3.

Delaware students in grades 1-12 are able to submit posters, YouTube videos (students over the age of 13) and essays (5th-12th graders) focusing on food insecurity, food recovery/food waste and healthy eating.

Finalists’ entries will be on display at the Coming Together conference, Delaware’s first anti-hunger conference for both adults and children, on Monday, May 4.

Prizes will be given to the top three selections in each design theme category and in each age group. Age groups will be divided into elementary (1-4), middle school (5-8) and high school (9-12 grades). Each finalist will be awarded a prize, certificate and the honor of their entry being displayed at a statewide conference.

“I think want I want most out of the conference and this design challenge is for kids to think about what it really means to be hungry,” said 11-year-old Braeden Mannering, founder of Brae’s Brown Bags. “I want them to imagine how it feels and how we can fix it if we all work together. For me it is to help all people have a chance to eat healthy. I want kids to know they don’t need a cape to be a super hero. Sometimes you just need the right pen or colored pencil or just the right creative idea. I want to see the kids in Delaware, all ages, join forces to fight hunger.”

Mannering, along with a panel of community members, will be judging the entries based on originality, artistic merit and expression of the theme. Only one entry per student and each entry must be the work of only one student. Artist signatures or initials are only allowed on the back of the poster. Each entry must be accompanied by a signed release form.

“We are so thrilled to be partnering with Braeden. Braeden shows that regardless of age, we can all make a difference. We are hoping that other students will follow Braeden’s lead and work to make impactful change in our community.”

Complete rules for the Coming Together Multimedia Challenge can be found at http://www.fbd.org/comingtogethercontest/. Tickets for the May 4 conference are on sale. Adult tickets are $40 until April 17; tickets increase to $50 after the 17th. For more information about the conference, visit www.fbd.org/comingtogether.

Leave a comment

Filed under Advocate, Children's Nutrition, Events, Supporters

Partner Spotlight: Backpack Program at G.W. Carver Center

IMG_0864

Michele Murphy shows of G.W. Carver’s new school pantry, sponsored by the Harry K Foundation. In addition to backpacks, district families may also utilize the pantry.

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Many of the participants in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program are in elementary and middle school.

However, at the G.W. Carver Center in Frankford, there are 58 high school students enrolled in the Advanced Preliterate English Language Learners (APELL) program who are grateful to receive the weekend supply of food.

Many of them work in addition to going to school, said Michele Murphy, Parent Center Director. “They are some of the happiest kids. They want to learn. They are not greedy and appreciate whatever they are given.”

Some, she said, work in the poultry-processing plant in addition to attending school.

“It’s like giving them a million dollars in cash,” she said. Even though the Backpack Program is geared toward elementary-age students, the food makes a difference in these students’ lives.

The Backpack Program, now in its third week here, is distributed on Fridays.

“It’s inconspicuous,” said Mrs. Murphy, adding that the shelf-stable food packed in plastic bags is handed out in the three classrooms where the students are learning English, math and science.

“It’s better than nothing, and it’s a little variety,” she said.

“The students are thrilled. It’s been successful beyond our expectations. Who knows, the backpacks may keep them here.”

Mrs. Murphy said the students are not the only ones who benefit from the backpacks.

“The teachers are also very appreciative. They could tell the students need some nourishment over the weekend. They feel like Santa Claus,” she added.

Teacher Lori Ott agrees the backpacks are an important part of the students’ educational experiences.

“They appreciate it, and they are ready for them,” she said.

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please click here.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Children's Nutrition, Hunger, Hunger-Relief Partners, Poverty, Programs

Partner Spotlight: After-School Nutrition Program at Gauger Middle School’s 4-H Program

Gauger 4H mentorsBy Kim Turner, Communications Director

Every weekday morning, a group of dedicated volunteers work alongside Food Bank of Delaware staff in both Newark and Milford to prepare healthy after-school meals. Volunteers spend each morning bagging sandwiches and other items and loading individual-sized milk cartons and fruit into coolers. A fleet of drivers deliver the meals and snacks to after-school programs up and down the state. For many children, the meal received after school is the last healthy meal of the day until going back to school the next morning.

On average we deliver 6,500 meals each week. So far this school year, we have distributed 97,378 meals.

Sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), our after-school nutrition program fills a meal void for many Delaware families. We partner with after-school programs such as the University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension’s 4-H after-school program. Targeting at-risk youth, the program is housed at 13 statewide locations, including Gauger Middle School in Newark.

Last month I had the opportunity to visit the group of 4-H mentors housed at Gauger Middle School. Mentor Sherice Brown and eight others (pictured above) work with a group of more than 40 students, providing after-school enrichment programs to students. The program lasts for two hours every schoolday afternoon. In addition to homework help and recreational activities, the students also enjoy an after-school meal prepared by our team of volunteers. When I visited, students had tuna fish with crackers, celery, oranges and milk. Some recent and future programming includes construction of wooden bird houses, a culture project, microwave magic healthy cooking demonstrations and a career day.

The mentors, employed by the University of Delaware, are thankful for an opportunity to provide students with a meal.

Volunteers are currently needed to help prepare meals in both Newark and Milford. Click here to sign up to help in the Milford kitchen and here to help in Newark.

Does your after-school program want to serve free meals? To qualify for the program, sites must operate in areas where at least 50 percent of the children attending the nearest school qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. To learn more, please contact Kirsten Gooden, Children’s Nutrition Coordinator, at (302) 444-8128 or kgooden@fbd.org.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Children's Nutrition, Hunger-Relief Partners, Programs, Volunteer

Partner Spotlight: Backpack Program at Philip C. Showell Elementary

0123_backpack01By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Each Friday, 61 students at Philip C. Showell Elementary School in Selbyville receive a bag of shelf-stable food for the weekend.

These students participate in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Backpack Program, and according to Cheryl Carey, school counselor, gratefully and happily so.

Here’s how it works: Based on financial eligibility, parents can sign up their child (or children) through participating schools. It’s called the Backpack Program because a plastic bag filled with nutritionally sound and kid-friendly food, enough for the weekend, are placed in a child’s backpack.

“We call it Friday Friends,” said Ms. Carey, explaining how the school modified the backpack distribution process so that it’s easily incorporated into the school day.

“Last year, at the end of the day, the kids came to the cafeteria on the way to the bus,” she said.

But the program grew, and not unexpectedly, because 79 percent of the students in school serving Pre-K to grade 5 quality for free or reduced school lunches.

During the 2013-14 school year, 4,692 children in Delaware received weekend food through this backpack program at 125 sites state-wide.

With the weekly assistance from a retired teacher turned volunteer, the meals are delivered on a cart to each classroom.

Moya Stitzl, the volunteer, also prints out labels for each bag, further streamlining the distribution process.

“It’s important to make it normal. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no stigma attached,” she said.

The new system works.

“Everybody wants to be a friend,” said Ms. Carey.

“Our kids are really nice kids. They get it. They understand that some people need more help. This is such an extremely positive program, and I can’t thank the Food Bank enough.”

Lexi, Mason, Jesus and Daysia, all 5th grade students, all agreed: the crackers and juice were their favorites, and if they receive an item that they don’t enjoy, there’s always a sibling who will eat anything.

“I like to share it,” said Daysia.

Ms. Carey describes her school’s families as “hard-working parents. Our community is fabulous. The needs are there, but the needs are supported,” she said.

“I can’t say thank you enough to the Food Bank and to the volunteers.”

It costs $158 a year to provide one child with weekend food for one school year.

For more information on how to volunteer at the Food Bank of Delaware or to support the backpack program, visit www.fbd.org.

Leave a comment

Filed under Children's Nutrition, Programs

Partner Spotlight: Backpack Program at Gallaher Elementary

Backpack 2014By Kim Turner, Communications Director

Last year we distributed more than 129,000 bags of weekend food through our Backpack Program, a meal program for children who are at risk of going without meals on the weekends and during school holidays. We are already on pace to exceed that number. For children at 136 participating schools, the Backpack Program is a lifeline for thousands.

Maria Weeks is the school nurse at Gallaher Elementary School in Newark. She also coordinates the program for more than 50 children each week and sees firsthand the benefit of the program. “Students don’t have enough food. Period,” she says.

Families who utilize the program experience a variety of hardships. From being homeless to losing jobs and downsizing to changes in the food stamp program and insurance benefits, families who participate come from all walks of life.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with both Maria and William, a father of two Gallaher Backpack participants.

William is currently laid off from his seasonal job. Work is plentiful in the spring, summer and part of fall, but once the cold weather settles in, he is unemployed. When he is working he is barely making above minimum wage. To help make ends meet, three generations currently live in William’s Newark home.

“If it wasn’t for the Backpack Program, it would be tighter,” he explains. “I wouldn’t be able to explore with other healthy foods.”

Because of the Backpack Program, his family is eating healthy.

“There’s been times where I didn’t eat, but one meal every other day. I still don’t eat until the kids have eaten and every else has,” he says.

Maria says that kids who participate in the program are excited to receive their bags each week. “Families are very grateful for the program. It has been very helpful,” she says.

For school leaders who are on the fence about participating, Maria urges schools to sign up.

“It’s not a lot of work. Kids are cooperative because they want it,” she explains. “It’s not as hard as it sounds at first, and the monthly paperwork is minor.”

Maria points out that school meals are sometimes the only meals received by students. “How can you expect a child to learn who is hungry? Kids who are hungry can’t learn.”

She knows there are more families who can benefit, but many are too proud to ask for help.

“It took me a long time to begin accepting help,” says William. “You feel like you are not capable of supporting your family.”

When times get tough, William will utilize a local food pantry for assistance, but he says, “I don’t like taking the help unless I absolutely need it.”

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please click here.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Children's Nutrition, Programs