The Kansas Food Bank is now giving out 7,082 food packets per week to 395 schools in Wichita and Kansas, the Food Bank said this week.
Both numbers are records, Food Bank director Brian Walker said.
The charity in 2004 began using donations and volunteers organized in Food4kids program to provide backpacks of food to children in schools on Friday afternoons. They did so after teachers and social workers determined that some children were showing up at school on Monday morning having eaten little or nothing since school lunch on the previous Friday.
The backpacks are given to schools based on need and children identified by school staff. The backpacks are sent home with the children to give them food for the weekend.
Walker has said that the numbers are increasing in part because the Food Bank is steadily adding more schools to the list of those it serves. But part of the increase, he has said, is because more children are “food insecure,” meaning they don’t know where their next meal might come from.
His staff has tracked a steady increase in the numbers. In November his staff served 342 schools with 5,763 backpacks per week. In December: 375 schools, 6,491 backpacks.
In Wichita the highest number of backpacks currently go to Stanley Elementary School (84 backpacks). Other schools with high numbers: Mueller Elementary (74), Colvin Elementary (72), Jefferson Elementary (69), Cloud Elementary (67), Clark Elementary (54), Harry Street Elementary (45) and Rae Woodman Elementary (48).
In 2004 when the Food Bank began the program it served 632 children, according to Food Bank records.
To donate call 316-265-4421 or go to www.kansasfoodbank.org. Because the Food Bank can buy food at low cost, Walker said every $1 donated can provide up to $10 of food.