Weekend Food Program
While school aged children benefit from programs that provide breakfast and lunch during the school day, some families may not have the means to provide adequate meals at home. Thus, the Community Foundation of Greene County helps organize and provide administration to support the Greene County Weekend Food Program in our community. The goal of the program is simple: to increase the availability of nutritious, low fat meals to children who are experiencing hunger. The Greene County Weekend Food Program reinforces the fact that children need access to healthy food on a consistent basis.Each school district in Greene County operates their Weekend Food Program for elementary grades (K-6) by setting their participation guidelines, selecting students, ordering food, arranging volunteers to package the food, and working with school personnel to distribute the bags. The districts and schools may also conduct individual fundraising and food donation collection activities.
How the Program Works:
- Students are selected for participation through recommendations by a school nurse, social worker, guidance counselor, teachers and/or food service director. Parents receive a letter about the program and requesting permission for their child to participate. The program is confidential in order to protect the child.
- Children enrolled in the program receive a bag of non-perishable food items which is placed in a child’s own backpack, or a backpack to be given to the child.
- The food pack is designed to be non-perishable, child-friendly packages that do not require the child to cook or use special equipment. Each pack includes food for 6 light meals for the weekend. The school district food service directors prepare the menus and order the food through the school’s food vendor at a significantly reduced cost.
- Food bags are packed by student or adult volunteers at the school or community center.
- Backpacks are discreetly given to children, generally on the last school day before weekends or holidays
Partners involved in the Greene County Weekend Food Program:
The Greene County Weekend Food program is a collaboration of many organizations to address the issue of child hunger in Greene County. Since 2012 the Community Foundation of Greene County has served as a convener and fiscal sponsor for the Weekend Food Program. The role provides a central organization that can receive and distribute grants or contributions for the program as needed.
Schools Supporting and Served by the Greene County Weekend Food Program:
- Carmichaels Area School District (Carmichaels Elementary School)
- Southeastern Greene School District (Bobtown Elementary School)
- West Greene School District (Graysville Elementary School, and Springhill Freeport Elementary School)
- Central Greene School District (Waynesburg Central Elementary School.)
- Jefferson-Morgan School District (Jefferson-Morgan Elementary School)
Primary sponsors and financial supporters include:
The SWPA Food Security Partnership, Alpha Natural Resources, West Greene Lions Club and many other businesses, churches and individuals.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where does the food come from?
The school district food service directors prepare menus and order food through their food service network. Donations of specific types of food may be donated, such as fresh fruits and other appropriate food items that do not require refrigeration, cutting or other preparation prior to consumption.
Who pays for the food?
The food is paid for by a combination of community and grant funds raised by the Community Foundation, partner agencies, and schools. Grant funding for the program has been generously provided by the Southwestern Pennsylvania Food Security Partnership.
How much does the food cost?
At this time, food costs average $5.00 per week, per child (ranging from $4.00 to $5.25 per week). Over a 39 week program, this is about $195 per child per school year. However, as food and transportation costs fluctuate, this could change.
How many schools are served in Greene County?:
During 2013/2014 school year, children at all 6 elementary schools in our county are participating in the Greene County Weekend Food program.
How many children are served by the Greene County Weekend Food program?:
There are currently 139 children that benefit from the Greene County Weekend Food program. Carmichaels – 12-14; Central Greene – 44; Jefferson-Morgan – 13 (since March 7); Southeastern Greene – 12-14; and West Greene – 58.
How are children chosen to participate in the program?
Schools identify children based on a list of criteria developed by that school district.
About Childhood Hunger in Our Community
Childhood hunger is a serious problem in our community. According to Feeding America, more than one in 5 children in the southwestern Pennsylvania live with food insecurity. Feeding America reports that one in five children in southwestern Pennsylvania live with food insecurity. According to the October 2012 National School Lunch Program statistics, 2,308 (or 43.8%) of the 5,264 Greene County children enrolled in school (K-12) were eligible for free and reduced meals. Most of those children (2,010) were eligible for free meals. Yet, according to statistics compiled by the Corner Cupboard Food Bank, only an average of 480 children receive assistance through the local food pantries each month.
The harsh reality is that food insecure children face lifelong consequences. They are likely to suffer from weaker immune systems and are more likely to be hospitalized. Inadequate nutrition effects physical and cognitive development, and can result in children with lower cognitive function and learning potential, as well as behavioral difficulties. Adults who were hungry as children are less likely to have reached their full physical, educational and social potential, which lowers their ability to compete in the workplace.
In our community, hunger does not discriminate. It can affect any child, even those you least expect. Many of our children are living in poverty and their families simply cannot afford to make ends meet. Local teachers, school social workers and food service personnel have shared stories of watching children come to school hungry on Monday mornings and pocketing extra
food from other trays and trash bins throughout the week.