Nonprofit Food for Free is helping the Cambridge, Mass. school system feed students who rely on school cafeteria food for nutrition during the weekend and when school is not in session too, through its backing of the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program.
"The CWBP discreetly sends meals home on Fridays to Cambridge Public School students whose primary source of nutrition is the school cafeteria. The healthy meals are packed in the students’ backpacks ensuring that students are better prepared to learn the following week. They include two breakfasts, two lunches, milk, and fresh fruit for every child in the family,” according to a statement from Food for Free.
Since its inception in 2013, Food For Free has been helping families and now intends to serve all students in Cambridge in 2016. The organization hopes the program will serve as a national model to help students in need.
In the Cambridge school system, about 50 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and teachers began to identify a need to help students not just during the week, but on the weekends as well.
According to the CWSP website, one public school teacher said that before this program existed, many teachers feared for their students well being on the weekends.
“Many of us teachers have identified families at our school struggling with food insecurity. We’ve sent students home with food ourselves and wish aloud that a formal backpack program exist.”
The site also claims that the program has proven to be very effective in helping improve student achievement; 34 percent of students who use the backpack program, the site said, have increased in both school performance and attention in class.”
Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor