Introducing Weekends Without Hunger

“Weekends without Hunger…Feeding our Future”  is set to begin on Friday, October 11th. Its mission is to “ensure elementary school students in the City of Norwalk are fed on weekends throughout the school year.”  The team that is organizing this program envisions that this program will impact child hunger by providing 12 healthy, nutritious items in a bag for weekend meals distributed to first graders at Maplehurst Elementary and Norwalk Catholic School.  Research has proven that well fed children have improved health, better test scores, improved reading skills, positive behavior and increased school attendance.

The committee of 22 community members organized by former Norwalk City Schools  

Superintendent Virginia Poling learned that almost 52% of the 250 first graders at Maplehurst qualify for free and reduced fee meals.  Approximately ten first graders at Norwalk Catholic School qualify.  The committee plans to begin by addressing the needs of approximately 150 first graders beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, specifically on October 1st.  Later in the school year we will seek to serve qualified second graders and then later in the year add qualified kindergartners to prepare them for the next year’s program.

Parents of first graders who are on the free or reduced fee meal program have received a letter explaining the Weekends without Hunger program. Parents must sign the form and return it to their child’s school in order for their child to receive the food each week. Beginning on Friday October 11th a select group of volunteers will place the plain bags of food in the book bags of all of the eligible children while the children are out of the classroom in order to respect everyone’s privacy.

The cost to provide 12 items of healthy food for each child for the weekends during the school year is approximately $100.  The first phase is estimated to cost $15,000 while the second phase with second graders and kindergartners is estimated to cost $10,000.  Our first year budget is $25,000.  The Salvation Army provides a similar program during the summer months and we will seek to bridge the two programs to ensure childhood hunger is addressed year-round in our community.

As a non-profit organization Fisher-Titus Medical Center Foundation will serve as a fiscal agent for the program.  They believe this program addresses a true community need as identified in the 2011 Huron County Community Health Assessment.  They fully support the mission of the “Weekends without Hunger…Feeding our Future” initiative.

Our committee members are in the process of creating a community fundraising campaign to “feed a child” for $100 per year to support the initiative.

For further information about this program people can contact Virginia Poling at cvpoling@frontier.com. Community members wishing to make a donation should make checks out to Weekends without Hunger, c/o Fisher-Titus Medical Center Foundation, 272 Benedict Avenue, Norwalk, OH 44857.