13 million children are at risk of hunger in the U.S. That means they might be going to school or going to bed hungry. Feeding America is committed to changing that, and for the third year in a row we’re partnering with Red Nose Day to make a big impact for children facing hunger.
Red Nose Day works to end child poverty — and last year, they supported child hunger programs in all 200 Feeding America network food banks. Thanks to Red Nose Day, Feeding America and the network of food banks have been able to supply 10 million more meals in this past year.
But what does that actually mean to children we serve? A lot! We asked food banks across the country how the Red Nose Day fund has helped fight child hunger. Check out some of the highlights from the stories they told us and the impact they've seen.
Harvest Hope Food Bank, Columbia, SC
With the support from the Red Nose Fund, Harvest Hope Food Bank provides children with reliable, nutritious food for weekends and school holidays with their BackPack program.
The students love it! When prompted with, "When I get my BackPack, I feel…" they said:
“I feel like saying ‘HA HA’ because I am happy! You are the best person I ever met for doing this for me. I just wanted to say thank you!”
“Happy, hungry and energetic! Like it’s my birthday!”
“I like you guys a lot. I like how you provide food for my family. Thank you.”
Northwest Arkansas Food Bank, Bethel Heights, AR
With the Red Nose Day funds, Northwest Arkansas Food Bank was able to supply 12,000 snack packs to the children in their community. It allowed the Food Bank to reach the goal of increasing the number of children being served when school is out, as well as providing healthy recipes to the people they serve. The vision is to not only provide children with snack packs, but to also educate their families on the resources available to them.
Below is a thank you note from a student, courtesy of Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.
St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, Phoenix, AZ
One school told St. Mary's that the students' attendance increased on Fridays due to the Backpack Program because the children knew that if they came to school on Friday, they would receive a backpack filled with food. The Red Nose Day Fund enabled St. Mary’s to provide 1,221 backpacks filled with nutritious food for children who were at risk of missing meals on the weekends — meaning fewer Arizona children went to bed hungry because their parents could not afford weekend meals.
Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, Tulsa, OK
With Red Nose Day funds, Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma has been able to add two rural school districts to the Backpack Program outside of the Tulsa Public School system.
One teacher said: "The kids so appreciate the food ... Last week I had three siblings with tears in their eyes when I asked if they needed more food over the weekend. The oldest said no, they had one box of crackers on the shelf that they could share over the weekend. When I told them I could send them each home with a bag of healthy snacks the tears came."
Community Food Bank, Fresno, CA
The children in the video below attend an elementary school in Fresno, California. The area is one of the most economically disadvantaged in all of California. Red Nose Day helped to expand Community Food Bank’s BackPack program, taking a big step forward in achieving their goal of a hunger-free community.
Watch this video courtesy of the Community Food Bank of students thanking supporters of the BackPack program.
Maryland Food Bank, Baltimore, MD
Red Nose Day helped the Maryland Food Bank distribute food through its school pantry program. One school pantry coordinator told the food bank:
“The School Pantry Program is a filler for families who don’t make enough to buy food. They can at least get food from us, and their kids can walk in the school’s door with their heads held high. One family was homeless, and didn’t know if they could afford a particular housing complex they were looking into. We were able to give them the commitment that we could handle the food part of their budget. Because of this, they now have stable housing. Their kids can now go to sleep in their own bed.”
The Foodbank, Inc., Dayton, OH
There are many children throughout The Foodbank’s service area that receive free or reduced lunches at school. But over the weekend, these same children are at a high risk of going hungry. Ten years ago, The Foodbank began the Good-to-Go Backpack program. Good-to-Go backpacks are sent home with children every Friday throughout the school year. Each backpack is filled with food children can take home and eat over the weekend. For the past 10 years, they have had to maintain a waiting list because they could not serve all of the children in need. Thanks to Red Nose Day, The Foodbank, Inc. is now serving 1490 children — and this is the first time since the start of the Foodbank's Good-to-Go Backpack wait list in 2005 that no children have been on the wait list!
The Foodbank team in their red noses, courtesy of The Foodbank, Inc.
Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, Duluth, MN
With the help of Red Nose Day funding, Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank reached a new record of children served per week — which was 935 children per week at the start of this school year. Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank shared this story to illustrate just how important the backpacks are to the children they serve:
"On a recent afternoon a school bus driver in Cloquet had a little girl board her bus. After a few seconds the girl frantically approached her saying she forgot her bag in school. The bus driver knew that teachers typically walk their students to the bus and then return to the locked school. Not knowing if she could accommodate the girl’s request she asked, 'What’s in your bag?' to which the girl replied, 'My food.'
Fortunately the bus driver saw that one teacher remained outside and allowed the girl to exit her bus. The teacher asked if the bus driver was able to wait for her return and she happily obliged.
'I was teary eyed the rest of my route,' she said. 'I didn’t realize I had kids on my very own bus who were hungry.'
The face of hunger is often familiar. It’s our friends, our neighbors, a co-worker or a student we come in contact with daily. This little girl happened to be a participant of our BackPack Program and fortunately due to the bus driver's kindness and compassion she was able to have her food for the weekend."
Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, Inc., Gary, IN
Thanks to Red Nose Day, 50 additional children were added to the Backpack program — providing nutritious and easy-to-prepare meals for the weekends.
The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana offers children who receive the backpack an opportunity to write essays or draw pictures to show what they enjoy most about the backpacks. Below is one student's story, courtesy of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana.
The Food Bank of Western New York helps infants and young children with its Baby Needs program. Red Nose Day helped the Food Bank of Western New York procure and distribute infant formula and diapers to 24 Baby Needs sites.
The Food Bank reports: “Our Baby Needs Program is an expensive program. Infant formula and diapers are very costly. We were thrilled to receive the [funding] from the Red Nose Day Fund, and to date, it's our largest contribution to the FY 16-17 Baby Needs Program!”
Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, Flint, MI
Through the Red Nose Day Fund, the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan was able to keep three school pantry sites fully stocked, providing 2-3 days' worth of supplemental food options to students and their families facing hunger.
Below are stocked pantry shelves, courtesy of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.