Student volunteers help prepare food packs for distribution as part of Island Harvest Food Bank’s Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program. Photo courtesy of Island Harvest Food Bank.
LONG ISLAND, NY — November 1, 2019 — Island Harvest Food Bank has been awarded a $30,000 KidCents Regional Grant through The Rite Aid Foundation to help fund its Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program according to Randi Shubin Dresner, president, and CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank.
“No child should ever experience hunger, yet unfortunately many food-insecure Long Island schoolchildren often rely on their school’s free breakfasts and lunches as the only meals they eat during the weekday,” said Ms. Shubin Dresner. “The Rite Aid Foundation’s KidsCents Regional Grant will help us give children in need essential food support over the weekend when school feeding programs are not available.”
The Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program, established in 2006, provides supplemental food support for school children who rely on their school’s breakfast and lunch program, but often don’t have enough to eat over the weekend. More than 100,000 children on Long Island qualify for free or reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program and the National School Breakfast Program.
Each Friday during the school year, Island Harvest Food Bank discretely supplies food-insecure children with packs of nutritious, shelf-stable food, which contains enough for two breakfasts, two snacks, two servings of milk and juice. Beginning with the 2019/20 school year the food packs distributed through the program now include one healthy meal for a family of four.
“We recognized that if a student participating in the Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program is food-insecure, the entire household is most likely facing similar challenges with not having enough to eat,” explained Ms. Shubin Dresner. “Students who were sharing some, or all of the food from the backpack with siblings, or other family members, created nutrition deficiencies, contrary to the program’s intent. Providing family meals in the backpacks helps address potential nutritional deficits.” Including family meals help foster healthier eating habits and allows families the chance to enjoy a meal together. “Supplementing a family meal in the weekend backpacks also relieves young students of some of the pressures we identified in the original version of the program,” added Ms. Shubin Dresner.
During the 2018/19 school year, Island Harvest Food Bank’s Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program distributed 41,000 food packs, supplementing 246,000 meals to 1,200 children in 28 schools across 11 school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The KidCents Regional Grant Program, which provides grants of $15,000-$30,000, funds specific out-of-school time programs focused on children’s nutrition, physical fitness, and academic success. The KidCents program also annually supports a select group of more than 400 nonprofit, kid-focused organizations committed to improving the health and wellbeing of children living in the communities Rite Aid serves, as well as national organizations focused on critical children’s issues including The Fred Rogers Company, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and Folds of Honor.
In this cycle of KidCents Regional Grants, The Rite Aid Foundation awarded 233 nonprofit grants totaling more than $5 million. Grants were available in select counties in the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington.
“The Rite Aid Foundation is committed to being a caring neighbor and making meaningful differences for the children and families who live in the communities we serve,” said Tracy Henderson, director of The Rite Aid Foundation and charitable giving initiatives. “The Regional Grant Program significantly expands the reach and impact of our KidCents program, while enabling our partner organizations to provide critical out-of-school time programs that are vital to keeping children and adolescents on track for future success.”
KidCents Regional Grants support nonprofit organizations with programs that serve children, grades K-12, and improve quality of life in Rite Aid communities. The grants support three of KidCents’ primary focus areas for improving the health and wellbeing of children: healthy eating, active living, and education. To be considered, programs and projects were required to take place during out-of-school-time with priority given to programs that support communities in need.
This is the second cycle of KidCents Regional Grants. In the first cycle, The Rite Aid Foundation awarded 180 grants, totaling more than $4 million.
Another cycle of KidCents Regional Grants will launch in 2020. To learn more about the program, visit riteaid.com/grants.
About Island Harvest Food Bank
Island Harvest Food Bank is a leading hunger-relief organization that provides food and other resources to people in need. Always treating those it helps with dignity and respect, its mission is to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island through efficient food collection and distribution; enhanced hunger-awareness and nutrition-education programs; job training; and direct services targeted at children, senior citizens, veterans, and others at risk of food insecurity. As a result of Island Harvest Food Bank’s dynamic business model, more than 94 percent of expended resources go directly to programs and services that support more than 300,000 Long Islanders facing hunger. Island Harvest Food Bank is a lead agency in the region’s emergency response preparedness for food and product distribution and is a member of Feeding America®, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief organization. For five consecutive years, Island Harvest Food Bank has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, a leading independent charity watchdog organization. Island Harvest Food Bank is among just 9% of the organizations rated by Charity Navigator to merit the four-star designation. More information about Island Harvest Food Bank is at www.islandharvest.org.
About The Rite Aid Foundation
Since its inception in 2001, The Rite Aid Foundation has awarded more than $63 million to nonprofit organizations. Additionally, Rite Aid, through the efforts of its customers, supplier partners and associates, has also raised more than $92 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals across the country since 1994.
About Rite Aid Corporation
Rite Aid Corporation, which generated fiscal 2019 annual revenue of $21.6 billion, is one of the nation’s leading drugstore chains with 2,464 stores in 18 states and pharmacy benefit management (PBM) capabilities through EnvisionRxOptions and its affiliates. At Rite Aid, we have a personal interest in our customers’ health and wellness and deliver the products and services they need to lead healthier lives. Information about Rite Aid, including corporate background and press releases, is available through the company’s website at www.riteaid.com.
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Island Harvest Food Bank Contact:
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