Do you know that there are children in the United States that do not have enough food at home? The families rely on the schools to provide the majority of their meals. But what happens when they go home for the weekends? The Collinsville Food Pantry has a program called Tote Me Home that sent 4,444 bags of food home during the 2017-18 school year with children who have been identified as food insecure by social workers.
Food Insecurity is a big problem in the United States. 69% of students in the Collinsville, Illinois Unit 10 School District qualify for the free and reduced lunch program. The bags that are sent home fill in the gap over the weekends. The school social workers identify these students who are coming to school hungry and have behavior issues related to hunger. The schools let us know how many bags they need each week.
The feedback that the Pantry has received has always been positive. To protect privacy, we do not know the identities, race, or sex of the students. The students are given the bags on Friday on their way out the door for home. This project costs the Food Pantry $30,000 a year. We do not receive federal or county funding for this project because it is an anonymous program. We do not have data to provide the government to meet their criteria for funds.
We want these children to know that their community cares for them and wants them to succeed in life. When a child comes to school hungry, they can't focus on learning. This program works because we do not identify these children publicly. The teachers have reported to us an improvement of behavior of the child that received a bag for the weekend. The Food Pantry provides bags for all schools in the Collinsville Unit 10 School District, including the parochial schools if needed.
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