Jacksonville, Fla. (April 20, 2015) – Feeding Northeast Florida (FNEFL) has delivered more than 50,000 pounds of healthy snacks and fruits to eight Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) since it launched ‘SnackPack Wednesdays’ last October.
“We rolled out the program slowly and plan to add more schools as volunteers and funds are obtained to support its expansion,” said FNEFL President and CEO Bruce Ganger. “It’s proven that hunger can affect the ability of students to focus and learn in the classroom, so this program is having a direct positive impact on a child’s capacity to concentrate and do well in school.”
Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) contacted FNEFL last August to discuss and plan a targeted hunger prevention project based on its growing concern about students identified by staff as being clearly in distress from food insecurity. SnackPack Wednesdays was designed to provide healthy snacks for these children when they are not in school, providing a pack of food that is kid-friendly, nutritious (high protein, low-sugar, whole grains, fresh fruit, etc.) and easily transported and stored at the child’s home.
DCPS staff identified 107 of its 160 schools that had children who fit the economic criteria to receive supplemental food assistance, and selected the schools with highest rates of food insecurity and other student performance and behavior criteria. About 600 students were connected with the program through participating West Jacksonville, S.P. Livingston, Ruth Upson, Joseph Finegan, and Neptune Beach Elementary schools, as well as Eugene Butler, Mayport and Southside Middle schools.
“Community organizations like Feeding Northeast Florida helps support our goal to develop the whole child by filling the gaps in our society for children and eliminating factors, such as hunger, that can create obstacles to learning,” said Superintendent Nikolai P. Vitti. “We appreciate Feeding Northeast Florida’s commitment to ending hunger, and look forward to the continued expansion of the SnackPack Wednesdays program to reach even more of our students in need throughout the school year.”
The initiative is also part of the Keiko Fresh Eats program, a targeted child nutrition project focused on effectively using existing resources and collaborations to address identified nutritional gaps for children.
About Feeding Northeast Florida
Feeding Northeast Florida (FNEFL) distributes food to people who struggle to feed themselves and their families across 17 Northeast Florida counties through a network of more than 150 nonprofit, faith-based and charitable organizations. FNEFL is an affiliate of Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that lead the fight against hunger in the United States. The most recent localized survey from the 2014 Hunger in America report shows that 38,000 people are served each week by programs supported by FNEFL. To donate, volunteer or find out more about eliminating hunger in Northeast Florida, visit www.feedingnefl.org or contact 904-513-1333.
About Duval County Public Schools
Duval County Public Schools is the 20th largest school district in the nation, serving 125,000 students in more than 180 schools. Visit www.DuvalSchools.org to learn more.