The Weekend Packs for Kids (WPK) Program
Started 8 years ago by a concerned parent, the WPK program provides healthy weekend food to K-8 students at no cost - enough for two breakfasts, two lunches and snacks. It is a collaborative effort of the Food Bank, the Orcas Island School District and local markets.
The consequences of hunger for children include increased risk of chronic health conditions, increased absence from school, and behavior problems. Until schools closed in March 2020 because of Covid-19, the program supplied a weekly bag of nonperishable, child-friendly foods each Friday to students at OISD who requested them. These students were generally those eligible for the Free and Reduced Lunch program. The pandemic has made the situation far worse, as evidenced by the increased number of families who are receiving food from the Food Bank.
The Food Bank has received funds through the OICF GiveOrcas Campaign to help support WPK for approximately fifty K-8 students for 36 school weeks starting in September 2021 (i.e. for the 2021-22 school year). Our research has shown that $10 per bag is a typical cost nationwide for providing healthy, nutritious, easy-to-prepare food for two days for K-8 students. A bag containing such foods would provide about half the calorie needs of kindergarteners and one-third those of 6th graders, as well as protein, fiber and other essential nutrients.