Ava is seven years old. She likes to draw and read with her two older brothers. Her parents work hard to provide for their family but their paychecks are barely making ends meet. During winter break, expenses really pile up – heat for their apartment, a babysitter during work hours, a few small holiday gifts. Winter break also means a break from the free meals Ava and her brothers usually receive at school. There’s simply not enough money to put food on the table three times a day.
There are 1,665 students who have requested support from Breaktime-Mealtime this winter break.
Like Ava, these students and their families rely on the free and reduced-price meals they receive at school to make ends meet. Breaktime-Mealtime helps to fill this gap by providing grocery store vouchers to purchase food that fits their household’s cultural and dietary needs. Vouchers are distributed the week before break through the school’s Family Connections Centers.
“I asked families what they bought with the vouchers,” shared a staff member at one Family Connections Center. “Most of them told me they bought fresh fruit and vegetables. These items are a treat for families who use food banks on a regular basis. Some kids don’t have the chance to eat fresh fruits or vegetables except for at school lunch.”
The flexibility of a grocery store voucher is especially important for families like Sara’s that require special meals. She shared: “My son has many restrictions in food due to his disability. I can use this voucher to buy him something that agrees with his stomach.”
More Than Food
Breaktime-Mealtime is more than just food for these students. One school counselor shared the greater impact of the program for struggling families:
“Our school has over 75 families enrolled in Breaktime-Mealtime. As the Family Services Specialist, I value and appreciate the program very much. I don’t know how to help families in a deeper way without solving their basic needs first. This program not only provides food but also provides the assurance of possible stability for struggling families.”
Your support is critical in ensuring that not one of these students goes hungry. Just $50 provides a Bellevue student with vital nutrition during the two-week break. Your year-end gift could be the difference between an empty plate and a full stomach for these children.