Public Health Threat
Hunger is a major public health threat. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, children who are food insecure are more likely to be affected by medical problems such as iron deficiency, asthma, increased stomachaches, headaches, and colds, and increased fatigue. These same children are more likely to become overweight or obese which can lead to other chronic diseases including high blood pressure and diabetes. Children who are food insecure tend to suffer from developmental and social issues sometimes having lower math scores and difficulty concentrating. They are also more likely to repeat a grade level. Irritability, difficulty getting along with others and school suspensions are some of the problems related to behavior that children and teens that experience food insecurity are more likely to face.
Although food insecurity is harmful to any individual, it can be particularly devastating among children due to their increased vulnerability and the potential for long-term consequences. Across the country, and right here in Central Pennsylvania, teachers and school personnel have found that in some instances, Monday morning comes and they are forced to compete against hunger for the attention of their students.
Program or Project Description
NutriPacks is a direct food distribution program for elementary school students located in the Central Dauphin School District. 2010 marked the beginning of the NutriPacks Program in our school district. NutriPacks provides weekend food and nutritional information to families who are food insecure when the school's free lunch program is not available to them.
The NutriPacks Program operates 35 weeks during the school year (October – June). Students/ families enrolled in the NutriPacks Program receive 6-10 pounds of food weekly, at no cost. The NutriPacks Program is completely run by volunteers and NutriPacks is funded entirely through grants, by foundation and community groups and through fundraisers we hold. Approximate cost per child per distribution per week is $3.14. This does not include milk which we hope to secure in 2014-15.
Counties that the Program Serves
The Central Dauphin School District is the largest school district in Dauphin County, the largest in the greater Harrisburg metropolitan area and is the 13th largest school district in Pennsylvania. It covers 118.2 square miles and is comprised of three Boroughs: Dauphin, Paxtang and Penbrook and four townships: Lower Paxton, Middle Paxton, Swatara and West Hanover. Students attend 13 elementary schools, 4 middle schools and 2 highs schools; and are transported from urban, suburban and rural areas. There are 85,000 residents in the Central Dauphin School District.
In 2013-14 NutriPacks provided services in 8 of the 13 elementary schools located in the Central Dauphin School District. In 2014-15, the Central Dauphin NutriPacks Program plans to provide services at all 13 elementary schools located in the District (Chambers Hill, E. H. Phillips, Lawnton, Linglestown, Middle Paxton, Mountain View, Northside, Paxtang, Paxtonia, Rutherford, Southside, Tri-Community, and West Hanover).
In 2013-14, over 22,000 backpack were sent home which served 500 families, 734 children in grades K-5 in 8 of our 13 elementary schools. In one year, enrollment skyrocketed from 275 to 734 children or 194% above last year’s enrollment. NutriPacks hopes to serve a total of 800 children in all 13 elementary schools in the 2014-15 school year if adequate funding is secured.
NutriPacks Advisory Committee
Amy Snyder, MSW, LCSW, NutriPacks Founder/Director
Kelsie Boyd, BSW, BA, 2014-15 NutriPacks Intern; Graduate Student at Temple University
Linda Dallago, BA, President, Panther Ram Foundation
Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, MA, RD, NutriPacks Evaluator
Susan F. George, BS, Public Health Consultant
Kathie Novak, MEd, RD, Nutrition Advisory
Sheryl Rozman, BS, Logistics Consultant
Jim Withrow, MA, Community Advisor
Karen Withrow, MA, Community Advisory
Lisa Zimmerman, BS, MS, Community Advisor