FOOD 2 KIDS PROGRAMS
The West Texas Food Bank’s Food 2 Kids program has evolved to include all children’s programming. The backpack program will always be the heartbeat of Food 2 Kids, but Food 2 Kids has grown and evolved into one of the most successful programs of the Food Bank. Other programs now included are: Kids Café, Summer Feeding, Food 2 Babies Formula Program, and School Pantries.
Beginning with our Food 2 Babies formula program, infants will receive the proper nutrition to grow and thrive. Next, elementary age students will receive sacks of ready-to-eat food for the weekends. And finally, secondary age students and their families will be served by school pantries on campus or nearby.
Additionally, Food 2 Kids includes Kids Café and our Summer Feeding sites. Both feeding programs provide necessary meals for children who might otherwise go hungry.
Tens of thousands of West Texas children are food insecure, but the amazing combination of programs incorporated under Food 2 Kids ensures the West Texas Food Bank is serving children ages zero to eighteen.
Since 2010, Food 2 Kids has been helping children get ready-to-eat food they need for the weekends. Food 2 Kids now represents our growing children’s programming, but the backpack program remains a vital and important service we provide.
Many children in West Texas do not know where their next meal is coming from. At school many receive free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch, but what happens when they go home for the weekend? The West Texas Food Bank’s Backpack Program feeds hungry children who may not eat a regular meal between their school lunch on Friday and their breakfast at school on Monday morning. Students are identified by teachers, counselors, or other school staff as exhibiting the signs of hunger. On Friday, each student receives a sack of ready-to-eat food items to take home which provides roughly four meals. We purchase all the food for the sacks in order to maintain consistency and make the program most cost-effective.
The West Texas Food Bank directly provides over a thousand backpacks to schools in Midland, Odessa, and Pecos each week. Thousands more children are served by independent backpack programs in Midland, Monahans, Big Spring, Stanton, Rankin and McCamey who order the food they distribute from the Food Bank.
Based on research from Feeding America, the West Texas Food Bank believes the best way to serve children in secondary schools (grades 6-12) are through school pantries on campus. Students and families who meet the income guidelines can visit the pantry and receive food on a regular basis. The Food Bank is looking to expand this program to more schools in order to combat adolescent hunger. A portion of the funding for the School Pantries is provided by Red Nose Day.
Children who participate in their school’s free or reduced-price lunch programs often don’t receive an evening meal at home. Kids Café provides a nutritious meal to these children at after-school programs. This program receives supplemental funding from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and USDA through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP).
The West Texas Food Bank currently feeds hundreds of children after school five days a week in Midland and Odessa.
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)
When school is out for the summer, children no longer have access to free or reduced-price meals. Families often struggle to provide the extra food to keep their children fed all summer. All children 18 years of age and under are welcome at any of the West Texas Food Bank’s summer feeding sites. Lunch is served five days a week at multiple locations in our service area. No registration or sign-up is necessary. To learn more about SFSP, click here.
Food 2 Babies Formula Program
WIC is a nutrition program for Women, Infants, and Children which provides supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. WIC will distribute vouchers for baby formula to their screened clients in need. The West Texas Food Bank will accept the vouchers and provide the additional formula required to meet the nutritional needs of babies.