Today’s blog post is from Communities In Schools of Chesterfield, Va. Executive Director Jay Swedenborg.
Many students served by Communities In Schools of Chesterfield, Va. receive breakfast and lunch through school on weekdays. But on weekends, food is certainly harder to come by.
Since 2009, Communities In Schools of Chesterfield has partnered with the FeedMore program in Central Virginia to provide nutritious weekend food for students in need in grades K-12. The program started at five Communities In Schools sites in the county, but has since expanded to serve an additional three schools.
Each week, 375 students receive bags full of food to get them through the weekend. Students are identified by school personnel, including site coordinators, principals, and guidance counselors. We always make sure that we have parents’ permission, and then each Friday afternoon, participating students pick-up a small drawstring bag filled with enough food for six meals. That’s two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. All the food we hand out is non-perishable and easy to prepare. Each bag weighs about six pounds and easily fits into a child’s book bag.
The food bags are packed by FeedMore volunteers and are delivered to our schools each week by volunteer delivery drivers. The program is offered at no cost to the schools and no cost to the families!
This program is a true blessing for many of our families. Warren Hammonds, a program manager with FeedMore, shared an experience with me that he had one day making a delivery to Bellwood Elementary School. He was approached at his car by a man, his wife, and their young child as he unloaded bags. The parents didn’t speak much English, but managed to ask Hammonds if those were the food bags to go home with the students. He indicated they were and he asked if they needed any assistance.
The mom started to cry as she thanked him as best she could, saying that her son received food each weekend and if it was not for this program, she would not always be able to feed him.
Kimberly Reynolds, the Communities In Schools site coordinator at Ettrick Elementary describes her students as being very eager and excited program participants. Every Thursday, students remind Reynolds that Friday is the “Food Bag” day and ask what is going to be in the bags each week. She says that the students are all smiles when they pick up their bags and several have told her that they love Fridays – “it is the best day of the week!”