Over 50% of the school children in Skagit County qualify for free/reduced lunch. Most elementary schools in Sedro-Woolley and Mount Vernon have over 70% of their students on free/reduced lunch. This means their families are very low income and frequently have to choose whether to buy groceries or pay the rent.
School teachers and counselors report that many of their students arrive on Monday famished. The students can’t focus and can’t learn until they have some food.
Fortunately, most schools offer breakfast as well as lunch to school children. As for the weekends, food banks have partnered with schools/PTAs to send “backpacks” of food home with children on Friday afternoons. The child has to pick up the bag of food and carry it home with him/her on the school bus. It’s embarrassing – and frustrating for bus drivers, who have complained the young kids can barely lug the food bag PLUS their school bag up the bus steps…and then take up an extra seat for the food bag. And what about the very little ones?? Right now, pre-school children don’t get extra food on the weekends. Plus, many working families cannot visit a food bank – they are open only for a few hours during regular working shifts.
A partnership of 1095 Skagit, United Way of Skagit County; Helping Hands Food Bank; Skagit Publishing; and Community Action’s Food Distribution Center created CHOW – Cutting Hunger On Weekends.