How are ‘at risk’ children identified?

‘At risk’ children are identified by teachers – our front line for knowing the children most in need. Once a child is identified, the teacher will then notify their liaison who coordinates with kidsPACK the required weekly deliveries of food to their school. Because kidsPACK school liaisons are located within each school alongside teachers and students, they are best positioned to ensure that children in need receive weekend kidsPACKs.

Who oversees the program in schools?

We have established strong and recognized relationships throughout the school system. In every county that we deliver food, kidsPACK is first approved by the local school boards and further closely collaborates with governmental oversight responsible for ensuring the welfare of ‘homeless’ children enrolled in their public schools.

How is kidsPACK run?

kidsPACK is run on a district or local level.

kidsPACK packages, transports, and distributes meals for children that they can feed themselves when subsidized school meal programs are unavailable. All food is nutritious, pre-cooked, commercially prepared, inspected, and non perishable.

Volunteers then manually pack the food for each child into individual “kids packs”, which consist of two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners. Volunteers then distribute the meal packs to participating schools, where teachers and school administrators deliver them to qualifying kids each Friday for consumption over the weekend.

kidsPACK launched in 2011 in Polk County, Florida, feeding 100 children per week. Since that time, kidsPACK  has grown to three counties and ended the 2014-2015 school year feeding 1,667 children per week.  It is the intention to grow the program to other counties throughout Florida, then into other states, and eventually throughout the nation.

How do you select the food to include in the kidsPACK?

We choose food that is nutritious, non-perishable, pre-packaged, pre-cooked, can be eaten hot or cold, and that children WANT to eat.

Importantly, all kidsPACK food must be of the type that a child can easily consume without adult supervision. This allows kids to have food to eat regardless of whether they have a parent ‘present’ to aid them in the kitchen. It also affords them some independence in situations where they may be home alone. Further, for the many children that live out of hotels, cars or other shared accommodations, access to a kitchen is often not possible. Pre-cooked, ready-to-eat foods bypass any preparation required allowing a child to eat whenever or wherever they are hungry.

Do you know the names of the children?

No, kidsPACK deliveries are coordinated through the school liaisons who are responsible for protecting each child’s privacy. Neither kidsPACK nor our volunteers ever know the identity of the children we serve. Moreover, the backpacks are non-descript and when the food arrives at the schools – it is discreetly distributed. A critical component of the program is that the children receiving help are not singled out among their friends or within the community as needy.

What does this mean for children?

Support, encouragement, and acceptance. Our mission is simply in ensuring that children are not going hungry. kidsPACK is hope and security in a backpack.