Have you heard about our Summer Breakfast Bag Program yet? These bags contain healthy breakfast items like peanut butter, oatmeal and cereals, are meant for children of all ages and fill the hunger gap when school meals are not available during the summer. This year, the breakfast bags have become especially essential: When schools were forced to shut down to stop the spread of the coronavirus, many families suddenly found themselves without access to the free and reduced school meals which usually provide healthy lunches for their kids during the week.
This is why we are so thankful for our partnership with the Albertsons Company Foundation which graciously provided funding to extend our Breakfast Bag Program well into the fall of 2020.
“Many of the kids are adamant about getting the bags and that’s why I’m so happy that you can continue this program,” says Food Service Director Jessie Wesch from the Shandon Unified School District. One of Jessie’s favorite stories is about one of her 4th grade students, a girl who is now able to make her own breakfast while her mother is already at work in the morning. “She puts the oatmeal in a bowl, adds water and apple cinnamon flavor, and then heats it up in the microwave,” explains Jessie, “and that’s very empowering for both the parent and the child.”
This year, in addition to a great selection of food items and the kid-friendly recipe card that each bag contains, the bags also come in a cheerful, bright green color which not only the children but also the parents enjoy. Thanks to that, the bags are often reused for school, sports or other activities.
Providing families with nutritional support and peace of mind about the welfare of their children as well as an appealing and functional design are not the only aspects of the wonderful impact the breakfast bags have. Many volunteers and service workers also use them to connect with their clients in a more personal and caring way.
“During this pandemic, we are using the breakfast bags not just to make sure that children have enough food to start their day, but also as a reason for our staff to reach out and check in with the families,” explains Director of Resident Services Betian Webb from the Paso Robles Housing Authority. “Along with telling them that breakfast bags are ready for pick up, we are also able to find out if they need any other help with rent, utilities, or additional food for their household. The distributions of the bags also bring out our moms and some of the children which allows us to see them safely with masks face-to-face. We now know most of our 350 families way better than before this crisis, and they are now trusting our Community Services team with their concerns and also speak up when they are feeling desperate in these hard times.”
Overall, the Breakfast Bag Program brings hope, love and joy to our communities in SLO County and we are looking forward to continuing this service in the months to come. Recipient Olivia’s words of appreciation sum it up nicely: “Thank you all for blessing my family with your food program. It has given us hope and provided us with so much needed food. Without you, we would have a greater need. Thank you for thinking of us. We appreciate all you do!”