People working together can change the world. But not when they're hungry.
The Burlington Children's Space Take Home Bag project started 4 years ago when we packed up bags of grocery staples for families before we closed for the long break between Christmas and New Year’s Day. We know many of the families we work with are food insecure, meaning they can't always rely on adequate daily nutritous food. We wanted to provide extra food for the days kids would be away from the daily breakfast, lunch and snack served at school, and also encourage families to cook and eat together with healthy ingredients like eggs, cheese, pasta, tortillas, butter, oatmeal, veggies, and fruit. We packed up 15 and sent them home. We surveyed folks who took those first bags to find out what they thought. The response was so overwhelming - the gratitude for the simple bag with recipe ideas and the openness of the answers to questions about food insecurity made us realize we were on to something. We knew we had to find a way to continue the project.
Over the next four years we wrote fundraising letters, we formed a relay team and ran the marathon - twice - and we received support from the Children's Trust Fund. Last year, St. Mike’s students were moved by one of our core beliefs, and one the main ideas behind the bag project. Chronic hunger erodes human dignity. But sharing healthy food can restore it. We will always be grateful for their support. After all, as one of our preschoolers put it, who can learn when they are hungry?We spent the St. Mike's money this past year, feeding folks, spreading cooking knowledge and helping families cook and eat together more. To prepare for the end of this money, we applied for another year's worth of take home bag funding from Hannaford's community giving program. We felt sure we would get it. After all, we're a local non-profit, our program addresses hunger in our community, and promotes family nutrition. Plus, we've purchased the contents of each and every bag - as well as much of our lunch and snack ingredients - from Hannaford. Needless to say, we were hopelessly unprepared for our rejection.
We are reapplying through a different Hannaford program, thanks to a suggestion in our reply letter, but unfortunately at this moment we have only two more weeks of take home bags, until we can secure another funding stream.
We know this program is valuable. We know we can keep it going, because we've done it before when it seemed impossible - remember the marathon! And right now more than ever, fighting for something we know benefits our community and affirms our need to care for each other seems absolutely essential.
While we work on our next steps, we are open to ideas, suggestions for organizations we could ask for support, and of course, donations.
If you'd like to help, I've started this gofundme page to make donating super easy and quick.