The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s Food 4 Kids is an important program that provides chronically hungry elementary school children in Bryan County with backpacks of nutritious food once a week during the entire school year.
The Regional Food Bank currently provides this program to 10 elementary schools in Bryan County. In the 2008-2009 school year, they served nearly 8,000 children in 263 elementary schools in 38 central and western Oklahoma counties. Children who receive the backpacks are typically identified by school personnel and meet a set criteria.
“We really target the chronically hungry child, a child who has little to nothing to eat over the weekend,” said Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
Select school children at Northwest Heights Elementary generally received their backpacks on Fridays and bring home their food over the weekend. The students then return the backpacks on Mondays.
Everyone brings them back every week and they are always very appreciative, said Lisa Jestis, Northwest Heights Elementary’s school counselor.
Students in the program at Northwest Heights Elementary are taught ways to use their food wisely over the weekend. “We can help teach them how to care for themselves,” Jestis said.
The items that fill the backpacks vary from week to week and include two meal components along with snack items such as milk, chocolate milk, cereal, beanie weenies, peanut butter, crackers, beef jerky, raisins and dried fruits. “The food provided comes recommended by the Health and Science Center in Oklahoma City,” Bivens said.
School administrators and teachers have reported that students benefiting from the program have better performance, attendance and self-esteem. “Anytime a child has enough food, they can think and learn better,” Jestis said.
A $200 donation provides a backpack of food for one child for an entire school year. With the dollar-for-dollar match, the same donation made before the end of the year will go twice as far. “No child should ever have to go to bed with the pains of hunger in their stomach. Please make a donation to the Food 4 Kids program in the Bryan County and help us take advantage of this generous match,” Bivens said. All donations will stay in Bryan County.
To make a donation to Food 4 Kids-Bryan County, please contact Lisa Perry at firstname.lastname@example.org or (405) 604-7107. You can also contact the Regional Food Bank at (405) 972-1111 or www.regionalfoodbank.org. Donations can also be mailed to:
Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
Food 4 Kids-Bryan County
P.O. Box 270968
Oklahoma City, OK 73137