When the Food Bank truck pulls up to Tomales Elementary School in western Marin County each week, a group of 7th and 8th graders help the principal, Amanda Mattea, distribute food to all the classrooms. It’s part of the Food Bank’s Morning Snack Program which serves nearly 4,700 wholesome snacks to 20 schools throughout San Francisco and Marin each day — foods such as fresh fruit, carrots, and string cheese, giving kids the fuel they need to learn.
Additionally, the Food Bank’s Healthy Children Pantries provide low-income parents with fresh produce, lean proteins, and pantry staples to prepare nutritious meals at home. These pantries are conveniently located in public schools, giving parents easy access to nutritious food as they drop off or pick up their children.
With these two programs, the Food Bank is making a dent in childhood hunger. Hungry children are often tired, have trouble concentrating, and are likely to fall behind in class. They tend to have weaker immune systems, putting them at greater risk of illness. And studies show that kids who grow up hungry or malnourished are not as well prepared for success.
Healthy Snacks Spur Conversations about Healthy Eating
Educators see a big difference when students have enough to eat. “Children’s basic needs must be met before we can even talk about learning,” says Principal Mattea. “Your body needs to be taken care of, and you need nutritious food to eat.”
For the Tomales Elementary children, their bus ride home can take as long as an hour in this rural area of west Marin. So instead of being distributed as a morning snack, Tomales Elementary School distributes snacks from the Food Bank in the afternoon so kids can stay full on their long bus rides home.
Having a filling snack tides them over until dinner so they can do homework and play. “Our kids’ favorite snack is fruit,” says Principal Mattea. “The other day, they were very excited to get oranges, and we talked about all the ways to eat an orange, from orange juice, to fruit salad. It spurred some great conversation about different kinds of snacks and healthy eating.”