Second Harvest Food Bank's Kids NOW Program meets the needs of hungry children and families by providing them with free, nutritious, and easy-to-prepare food to take home on weekends and over school vacations when other resources such as free or reduced-cost school lunches are not available. The Kids NOW Program has been in operation since 2007.
"Working with Second Harvest is one of the greatest collaborations we have. The kids love the snacks and the staff love it, too."
-Joe Egan, Boys and Girls Club in Daly City
Every Friday afternoon as they are leaving their afterschool programs, children ages 3-18 receive an assortment of 8-10 food items to take home. Items include fresh fruit, granola bars, cereal, pasta, and soup. While the items vary from week to week, all are healthy. The Food Bank is committed to providing items with high nutritional value to this vulnerable population.
The food is provided to the children in discreet plastic bags that are easy for them to carry. The bags are distributed to all children who participate in the afterschool program, thus avoiding the stigma of the haves and the have-nots.
The Food Bank also uses the bags as a vehicle for communication with the families who participate in the program, promoting healthy eating through the distribution of nutrition education information. Food Bank staff nutritionists distribute materials aimed at educating children and families about healthy eating behaviors. In addition, we include information about other available food resources, including the Food Bank's Food Connection hotline number.
The Food Bank currently delivers food every week throughout the year as long as the partner site is open. Partner agencies include Boys & Girls Clubs, the YMCA of Silicon Valley, Project We Hope, and Bayshore Child Care Services.
Population and Region Served
- Second Harvest distributes food weekly to 1,689 children at 19 sites throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties in the cities of San Jose, Santa Clara, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Redwood City, and Daly City.
- Sites with a high percentage of children receiving free and reduced-price lunches at their schools are selected as distribution locations because this indicates that virtually all of the children receiving Kids NOW food are at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
- In our 2010 survey, we learned that 82% of the children share the food with three or more people in their household.
- While the Kids NOW Program is helping with some supplemental food for families, more resources are needed: 72% of the children surveyed stated that they do not always have enough food to eat. Not surprisingly, and perhaps due to negative stigma, a smaller percentage of parents echoed the same sentiment. Of 67 parents surveyed, 56% reported their families do not always have enough food to eat.
Staff at several partner sites have indicated that program attendance has been known to spike on Friday afternoons when the families know that bags will be handed out. It is encouraging to learn that 40% of the children surveyed have tried the nutrition games in the bag, indicating that they are engaging with the nutrition messaging.
Also, the Kids NOW Program is improving some eating habits as well, as reported by parents. Of parents surveyed about the program, 40% said that the food from Kids NOW has changed the way their children eat, 38% say their children eat more fruits and vegetables, and 21% say their children eat less fast food on the weekends.
For More Information
Please contact Tometrius Paxton, Agency Relations Manager, at 408.266.8866 ext. 421 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.