This weekend, schoolchildren from Lake City’s Olympic Hills Elementary at risk of hunger were able to bring home a little extra food thanks to the nonprofit Hunger Intervention Program, which added the school to its “Healthy HIP Packs Program” on Friday.
Through the program, 40 North Seattle elementary schoolchildren go home each weekend with a backpack full of nutritious and kid-friendly foods. The program started with John Rogers Elementary in Lake City, which has been involved for the past year and a half, with the addition of Olympic Hills Elementary and Viewlands Elementary in Greenwood on Friday.
According to a news release from the Hunger Intervention Program, the newly added schools have some of the district’s highest numbers of children relying on free or reduced-price school meals.
“We’re excited to be able to begin expanding our Healthy HIP Packs Program to better address hunger in our local communities,” Kate Murphy, HIP program manager, said in the news release. “This program is such an important resource for children when school meals are not available. I credit this expansion to our collaborative work with north Seattle elementary schools, community supporters and businesses, and our volunteers.”
From the news release:
The Healthy HIP Packs Program is a food backpack program that provides meals for children at risk of hunger when they are out of school. Each Friday, backpacks are discretely filled with enough food for six meals and two snacks per child and include information on nutrition and community resources. As a nutritionist, Murphy stresses that the foods included in the pack are complete meals and emphasizes whole grains, milk, high quality proteins, fresh fruits, and products with no added sugars.
“We work with each school to provide the children who are at the highest risk of hunger the opportunity to participate in our program,” said Murphy. “With our current funding, we are able to provide weekend food for up to 20 children at each of the new schools. Our goal is to increase this level of support to 40 children weekly by the 2013-14 school year. ”
“This is a wonderful opportunity that will make a difference for our students and is reflective of our school motto to be kind and helpful,” said Michelle Ota, Viewlands Elementary principal.
Once a month HIP hosts a packing party that brings volunteer community members – including grandparents, parents and their children – together to assemble HIP Packs. Volunteers then deliver the HIP Packs to the school each week, where they are discretely placed in student backpacks to be taken home.
“We always welcome donated funds as well as donations of healthy, quality foods that can be included in the HIP Packs,” added Murphy. “If anyone is interested in hosting a food drive, we can provide information to do so. We know that hungry kids can’t learn and this program directly delivers food to where it is needed most.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article previously stated that Olympic Hills Elementary was in Maple Leaf, but it actually is located at 13018 20th Ave. N.E. Olympic View Elementary, which is located in Maple Leaf, is not part of the Healthy HIP Packs program.