GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.- For 10 years, Kids Food Basket in Kent County has been helping families provide a nutritious dinner for their children. While they deliver brown bag dinners to 34 sites in Kent County and one in Muskegon County, daily, the need is growing, as nine more schools are on a waiting list.
The students at Parkview Elementary School in Wyoming are learning how it feels to pay it forward at a young age. On a Tuesday afternoon, they are delivering the brown bag dinners to many of their classmates.Every bag contains a meat and cheese sandwich, 100% fruit juice box, a serving and a half of fruit and a serving of veggies, as well as a healthy snack.
Before they make it to the classrooms, they are put together at the Kids Food BAsket facility at 2055 Oak Industrial Drive NE, in Grand Rapids. The organization makes sure kids do not go to bed hungry, which helps ensure they start the next school day ready to learn.
“Kids need to simply get fed, everyday,” said Bridget Clark Whitney, Executive Director at Kids Food Basket.
According to Clark Whitney, the organization started in 2002, serving 125 kids a day. In 2012, that grew to nearly 5,000 kids daily.
“38,000 kids in Kent County live below the poverty level.,” said Clark Whitney. “That’s a large number.”
While it’s unfortunate to have that many children in part of Our West Michigan in need of the dinners, Kids Food Basket is glad they can help tackle some of that.
With nine schools on a waiting list, volunteers and donations are key to the moving forward.
“We have over 175 volunteers a day helping make sack dinners and deliver them to schools,” said Clark Whitney. “They make sandwiches, make trail mix, they assemble the food items.”
Students Xitlali Martinez-Perez and Walter Brister have their favorites.
“The little fruit in the cups,” said Martinez-Perez.
“The (blueberry) granola bars,” added Brister.
While these students help deliver the dinner bags to their classmates, they also receive the meals each week night. Even at a young age, they know just what this means.
“I want to say thank you because I get to share them with my family,” said Martinez-Perez.
“I’m proud of it because every time I have to do work, I wont be hungry,” added Brister.
Kids Food Basket is asking for donations, especially for individually packed fruit cups and 100% fruit juice boxes. To help, click here.