Food for kids program a model

October 23, 2002 11:00 pm

By SUSAN EVERETT

Food for Kids, a snack program offered through Amador-Tuolumne Community Action Agency Food Bank, will soon be a model for other rural areas.

Organizers of the snack program have been asked to write a manual that could be used in up to 27 rural California counties to start more Food for Kids programs.

All this is made possible by a community food and nutrition project grant issued by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

ATCAA Food Bank Director Lee Kimball said the program shows how easy it is to distribute food for children to take home.

Last spring children in kindergarten through fifth grades at Summerville and Jamestown schools were offered a weekly bag of snacks, distributed by ATCAA volunteers.

At the start of the spring semester, 32 students were receiving Food for Kids snacks — 170 kids were benefiting from the program at the end of the school year.

Its fall program began last week at Summerville and Jamestown schools, and organizers hope children at 11 schools in Tuolumne County will receive Food for Kids snacks by spring 2003.

The plan this year, said program coordinator Sue Villiers, is to add a new school every two weeks.

The food bank gets donations for the Food for Kids program from various sources. The USDA provides items like raisins, peanut butter and tuna; private, local commercial donors donate crackers and other snacks; and the food bank is always looking for other donations, as well.

Volunteers will "deliver groceries to these schools once a week that are kid-friendly and nutritious" Villiers said. She said snacks will come in a bag and include a recipe that children can understand and prepare.

Food for Kids focuses on low-income families whose children only had breakfast and lunch programs at school. This is the first after-school-snack program.

Many families, Kimball said, have low-paying jobs and can't always get to the grocery store. The food bank offers safety net, she said, to fill in the gap.

"The idea of sending food home is a pretty exciting concept," Kimball said. "It targets kids' palates. The whole idea of eating — and not in an institution — is a nice concept."

To donate to the food bank, call 984-3960.