HELENA — About one in seven people in the Helena area face hunger or food insecurity, but Helena Food Share officials believe that number is even higher among area children. The Food Share’s Kid Packs program aims to address that issue, and help keep kids fed.
Kid Packs contain healthy, kid-friendly food and drinks, enough to help kids at risk of hunger get through the weekend.
“It’s so incredibly important, it’s life-changing for these kids,” Bryant Elementary School principal Trish Klock said. “They don’t have to worry about getting food.”
Klock said anywhere between 200 and 220 students attend Bryant in-person, with about another 40 students distance learning. Each week, she said the school sends home between 140 and 160 Kid Packs.
“We’ve always had a large number that have gone home each week,” Klock said. “We are just seeing more families in need as we get into the winter months, and seeing the extension of the pandemic.”
The Kid Packs are put together by Helena Food Share volunteers. Right now, AmeriCorps volunteers are helping out. Volunteers set up an assembly line in the Food Share’s warehouse, and spent their Monday morning putting together 1,200 Kid Packs.
“After the third time being here, we have the process down,” AmeriCorps volunteer Kat Freeman said.
After the Kid Packs are put together, they get delivered to elementary schools in Helena and East Helena on Wednesday.
Kid Packs are available to both in-person and distance learning students.
“For some of our kids, this is their food source for the weekend,” Klock said. “It’s great to be able to send tat home and knowing that they’re getting food when they’re at home.”
Klock is on the Helena Food Share board of directors, so she knows hunger is a reality in the Helena area. She said the Kid Packs make a difference in her students’ lives.
“We couldn’t do what we do without volunteers like those at Food Share,” Klock said. “It’s absolutely amazing what they do to provide just this basic necessity for our kids.”
The AmeriCorps volunteers said they are happy to help.
“We’re just really grateful for this opportunity to do something positive during this really tough time that our country is facing,” Freeman said. “We’re really just grateful to be here.”