According to its statistics, the Flathead Food Bank served 4,500 unduplicated households and 10,000 individuals last year. Food insecurity is an increasing reality for families in the Flathead Valley. Kalispell Public Schools report that one in five children suffer from food insecurity, meaning they do not know where their next meal is coming from unless it is provided at school. The Rotary Club of Kalispell (RCK) wishes to help our Flathead Food Bank and Kalispell School District address the increasing needs of local school children whose families suffer from food insecurity. For the past 7 years, the Food Bank has provided weekend "backpacks" for children identified by their schools as eligible for special food assistance. The number of children registered for weekend backpacks has doubled in the last 2 years and the trend is growing upward. Almost 13,000 food packs have been distributed thus far in the school year, and more schools are asking for assistance.
The Rotary Club of Kalispell proposes to do the following:
1. Provide nutritious and easy-to-prepare food for school children to take home on weekends and during school vacations when other resources such as free school breakfast and hot lunch programs are not available. We will spend the majority of project funds to purchase recommended, kid-friendly foods to fill 1,100 weekend packs along with a variety of totes that look like any other school or gym bag (to ensure children's privacy). 20 Rotarians will volunteer a minimum of 60 hours to assemble the weekend food packs and distribute them to schools beginning the first week of registration and classes.
Timeline: Aug-Oct 2019
2. RCK's Program Committee will arrange a panel presentation of public health professionals, school district personnel, and the Food Bank to further educate RCK members about childhood hunger and food insecurity in the Flathead Valley, the impact on children (physical, emotional and mental health, ability to learn), and what we can do to turn this crisis around. Timeline: October 2019
3. RCK Service and Membership Committees will coordinate an all-Club drive to collect food items and tote bags for an additional 100 children's food packs that we will assemble during a regular club meeting. Rotarians will be encouraged to invite family and friends to pitch in for even greater impact. Timeline: November 2019
4. The culmination of our project will be a week-long public awareness campaign hosted by Rotary, to educate our community about the plight of childhood hunger and offer practical ways to help alleviate it. We will seek the support of local radio and television stations, print and electronic news media, social media, businesses with reader boards, and our fellow Rotary Clubs for this final effort to "send childhood hunger packing!" Timeline: December 2019