The Marana Unified School District is implementing the Community Food Bank's Snak Paks for Kids program at Roadrunner Elementary School.
Volunteers are filling the first snack packs this week, with plans to do so for 34 weeks, through May 2010.
In Snak Paks for Kids, up to 80 high-need students are given a pack full of nutritious foods every Friday to help sustain them over the weekend. The program is being funded with $8,160 from a Trico Electric Cooperative, Inc., Power Grant. It is done in collaboration with the Community Food Bank and the Town of Marana Parks and Recreation Senior Center.
"We are so appreciative to have this opportunity for our students," said Elizabeth Armenta, principal at Roadrunner Elementary School. "We all know that good nutrition is critical to student success. We are invested in our students, not only in their learning and ability to make positive healthy choices but also in ensuring their other needs are met as well. We will have the opportunity to provide another valuable resource for our students and their families."
Roadrunner Elementary School staff has identified 80 highest need students within its school to participate for one school year. Every Friday, children in the Snak Paks program are receiving a nutrition drink powder, a beverage (V8 or juice,) a protein (peanut butter or canned meat,) grain (oatmeal, granola bar, trail mix, cereal,) and fruit (canned or dried.) The Snak Paks menu is on a four-week rotating schedule so the children get something different for each weekend of the month.
Foods are purchased through the Community Food Bank and delivered to the Town of Marana Parks and Recreation Department's Senior Center. Seniors assemble the Snak Paks weekly in bags that were donated by Fry's grocery store, and those bags are stored in storage crates donated by High Heels for Hope.
The Community Food Bank's Snak Paks for Kids Program targets children who are at risk of chronic hunger stress. These children may eat a healthy breakfast and lunch at school during the week, but on the weekends, they may have nothing to eat at home. Chronic hunger in a child can cause them to be tardy or absent from school and spend time in the nurse's office during the day with headaches, stomach aches, and weakness.
"Information states that students who have participated in the Snak Paks for Kids program are sick less often, have fewer stomach aches, and are more eager and able to learn," a release concluded.