Several Coupeville Elementary School students will be taking more than homework and books home on weekends.
The Gifts from the Heart Food Bank is starting a program to ensure some students will have food to get through the weekend.
The new program, called Meals 2 Kids, will send up to 50 elementary school students home with a bag of food, helping to provide meals through the weekend.
“For some families, it could be a positive thing for them,” said David Ebersole, principal at Coupeville Elementary School. He said the weekend meal program could be a “conduit” to other services that could provide assistance to families.
Students participating in the program will receive each Friday two breakfasts, two lunches, two beverages, two snacks and two pieces of fresh fruit. Teachers at Coupeville Elementary School are identifying possible students who could participate in the program.
Volunteers for the Central Whidbey-based food bank said they notice a significant number of children and youth receiving food when it is doled out twice a month.
Gifts from the Heart president Molly Hughes said 34 percent of the people helped by the food bank are 18 years old and younger.
“School kids are always a huge part of our demographic,” Hughes said.
In the Coupeville School District, 34.5 percent of the students qualify for free and reduced-priced lunches. Ebersole said that number has fluctuated as high as 40 percent.
Hughes said volunteers already has experience providing the service. During the last school year, Gifts from the Heart implemented a pilot program for six weeks last spring. That program helped 24 students.
It costs Gifts from the Heart $5 per student per weekend to provide the meals. Hughes said the food bank has enough resources to help 50 students for the school year. Volunteers have several hurdles to cross to maintain the student assistance program.
Hughes said a fundraising campaign will have to move forward if the program is to continue. In addition, storage space continues to be a struggle for the food bank.
Gifts from the Heart gives out food on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from locations in Coupeville and Greenbank. Between the two locations, the local food bank serves more than 100 families. Through August, just over 4,700 people received assistance from Gifts from the Heart.
Hughes said Gifts from the Heart is looking for donations to the Meal 2 Kids program. She complimented the support the organization has received from Central Whidbey residents.
To make a donation, send a check to Gifts from the Heart, P.O. Box 155, Coupeville, WA 98239.