A committee of dedicated community members, organized by former Norwalk City Schools Superintendent Virginia Poling, found in its initial research that almost 52 percent of Norwalk students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade qualify for free and reduced fee meals. The committee plans to continue to address the hunger needs of eligible kindergarten through fourth grade students in both the Norwalk Catholic and city schools during the 2016-17 school year.
Parents of elementary students who are on the free or reduced fee meal program received a letter explaining the Weekends Without Hunger program. Parents must sign the form and return it to their child’s school as soon as possible in order for their child to qualify to receive the food each week.
Beginning Oct. 14, a select group of volunteers began placing the bags of food items in the book bags of all of the eligible children while the children are out of the classroom in order to respect everyone’s privacy. All of the food items are supplied by Second Harvest Food Bank.
The cost to provide 12 items of healthy food for each child for the weekends during the school year has risen to slightly more than $100 per child.
The money donated for this fourth year of operation goes strictly to pay for the food provided by Second Harvest. All other costs of this program have been in-kind donations. The Salvation Army provides a similar program during the summer months and we continue to seek to bridge the two programs to ensure childhood hunger is addressed year-round in our community.
As a non-profit organization, the Fisher-Titus Foundation serves as a fiscal agent for the program. Foundation officials said they believe this program addresses a true community need as identified in the 2011 Huron County Community Health Assessment and they fully support the mission of the “Weekends without Hunger…Feeding our Future” initiative, which is to ensure that Norwalk’s elementary students who qualify for free or reduced fee meals are fed on the weekends throughout the school year.
Committee members are in the process of creating a community fundraising campaign to “feed a child” for $100 per year to support this initiative. Weekends officials said they believe this concept will resonate with the public and provide a credible and achievable source of funding from both private individuals and area businesses.
For further information about this program, contact Judy Sommers at [email protected] or Reta Stark at [email protected]
Community members wishing to make a donation should make checks out to Weekends without Hunger, c/o Fisher-Titus Foundation, 272 Benedict Ave., Norwalk, OH 44857.