Local Program Provides Children With Healthy Weekend Meals
Each week, the Nutrition On Weekends (NOW) program provides nearly 400 local children access to healthy weekend nutrition. A program of Marshfield Area United Way, the project is made possible with the help of more than 120 volunteers and numerous community donations.
“Not a week goes by that we aren’t amazed and thankful for the community’s support. We truly could not offer this program without the community embracing this program,” said Paula Jero, Executive Director. “Both the amount of volunteers and volume of food that is needed each week is daunting, and our communities continue to respond and allow this program to provide kids with a food pack each week.”
Modeled after a program in Colorado, NOW was developed after the 2012 Youth Risk Behavior Survey documented that 20% of children reported not having enough food in their households. United Way gathered community organizations to examine what might be done to address this issue and the NOW program was the result of these efforts.
What began in October of 2013 with just 29 children in two schools has grown to serving hundreds of children and youth in six school districts plus Wood County Head Start.
“The growth of this program is unprecedented to anything that United Way has been involved with both in the number of children served as well as volunteers and food donations for the program,” said Jero. “Our estimate is that we have about 800 volunteers involved in delivering this program.”
Each and every week, the NOW program distributes a significant amount of food area children, including roughly:
· 53 loaves of bread
· 788 ounces of peanut butter (50, 16-oz. jars)
· 788 ounces of jelly (25, 32-oz. jars)
· 985 ounces of cereal (81, 12-oz. boxes of cheerios)
· 788 pieces of fruit
· 120 pounds of carrots
· 341 ounces of animal crackers
· 420 ounces of raisins
· 394 ounces of goldfish crackers
· 212 ounces of pretzels
· 394 fruit snacks/granola bars/fruit cups
Throughout the holiday season, donations are plentiful, but this time of year can be challenging for the NOW program. Donations are needed to help sustain this important community program.
“Everyone has basic needs…food, warmth, water, and rest,” said Jero. “The fulfillment of these must be present in order for us to progress to achieving other needs, such as safety, and learning and relationships.”
“When a child is hungry their focus remains on their hunger and obtaining food, and block progress in other areas of their life,” she said. “Through the NOW program, food is provided for the weekend to assure each child has a meal during the weekend when no school lunch is available.”
Support the NOW program with “Wine Cheese & Grub at the Oven Above the Pub.” Participation in the event will help the program sustain itself through the end of the school year.
The event has been capped to host 150 attendees. Secure your spot now by visiting www.marshfieldareaunitedway.org/NOW or United Way office, 156 S Central Avenue.
For more information about the Nutrition On Weekends program, please visit, www.marshfieldareaunitedway.org/NOW