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Feeding Northland Kids

Ed Rippee is a Charter Member of REBSEA, and is working with the organization Feed Northland Kids (details below) Ed's profile can be found at Ed Rippee

Hungry children aren't just statistics or sad stories on TV commercials. They are real and all too many of them are right here in the Northland of Kansas City, MO. At Feed Northland Kids it is our mission to change all of that. That's why, in partnership with Harvesters, we work hard to provide children with backpacks full of food that keeps them going - and growing - strong through what otherwise might be very hungry weekends.

The strength of any community is the people who reside there. If we expect a thriving population, certain basic needs have to be met. Nutritious food is the most basic ingredient for life and our group came together to ensure that our children, our future, have what they need to succeed, to lead healthy, happy and productive lives. Our combined future depends on providing a supportive environment for the most vulnerable among us – children.

Some simple statistics may surprise you – In the Northland, 34% of elementary-aged students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and one in five children live in a home deemed “food insecure”, which means financial pressures for that family result in a lack of nutritious food. Feed Northland Kids came together in 2009 to investigate solutions to this problem and ultimately crafted a partnership with Harvesters-The Community Food Network to expand their BackSnack program in the Northland. A BackSnack is a 4 lb packet of self-stable food designed to feed one child for a weekend. It will include two cereals, two protein-filled lunch/dinners, 2 boxes of milk, one fruit, one vegetable and a few additional snacks. This program is facilitated through the school social workers.

When we began this endeavor, 1,000 children in 46 schools were participating in the program. After four years, our partnership has resulted in a nearly triple increase in students served, to 2,930 and an additional 14 schools added.

But, there is a larger result than hungry stomachs being filled. A three-year evaluation reveals that students have a marked increase in attendance in school, improved grades, specifically in English (22%), Math and Science (17%) and less discipline issues. Parents report improved health and a greater sense of responsibility and accomplishment.

We can’t do it alone, we need your help. As you’ve no doubt read in recent publications or heard on news programs, hunger is a continuing issue for many in the United States. The 2008 economic downturn placed many more families further down the path towards poverty and quite often, a job loss leads to housing loss and money for medicine and food. So many families are one car accident, job loss or medical bill away from bankruptcy, eviction and unstable futures. Please join us or others in your local community, to ensure the needs of these families are met. A helping hand can lead to a better future. You can make a difference.

Submitted by Chris Evans, Executive Director, Feed Northland Kids, Kansas City, MO    Check out our website at:  www.feednorthlandkids.org or like us on facebook.

  (Thanks to Ed Rippee with Re/Max Results for this opportunity) 

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