The holiday season is a time for giving and that’s exactly what the Sedona Community Food Bank is hoping residents are willing to do.
When the school year began, Executive Director Cathleen Healy-Biaza got quite the surprise. In May, as kids were preparing for summer, there were 48 students at West Sedona School who were enrolled in the food bank’s Kids Weekend Food Pack program. This year that number has nearly tripled to 112. Because of that, the budget for the program went from $9,000 to an estimated $22,000 this year.
“To say it was a shock would be an understatement,” she said.
Food packs are available to qualifying students at partnering schools and child care programs throughout Yavapai County. This year, West Sedona School promoted the program more than it had the previous year, resulting in the major jump, Healy-Biaza said.
The program is a joint project of the Yavapai Food Council, emergency food providers, Sedona Community Food Bank and inter-faith organizations. The backpacks provide a variety of healthy, shelf-stable, individually packaged food items to keep children nourished over the weekend when school meals aren’t available, the food bank’s website states.
In 2015, 28,559 meals were provided to hungry kids through the weekend backpack program. During that year, SCFB filled 54 food packs weekly, which were delivered to West Sedona School. Monthly, those food packs totaled just over 1,400 pounds of food. That same year, the food bank distributed more than 241,000 pounds of food to needy families in the area.
“People are very surprised when they hear about the need here in Sedona,” she said. “In fact, some are shocked when they hear there’s a food bank here. It’s a big eye-opener for many.”
Because of the high demand of the weekend program, Healy-Biaza is requesting additional donations from the community — either a flat amount or they can sponsor a child for $20 a month.
Each weekend pack contains two breakfasts, two lunches and two dinner sides, so multiples of everything is needed. Items need to be lunch-sized or individual-serving sized.
Food needed for the backpack program include:
- 100 percent juice
- Hot and cold cereal
- Granola bars
- Cheese and crackers
- Peanut butter and crackers
- Canned vegetables
- Fruit cups
- Shelf-stable milk
- Fresh fruit
“This program is designed to provide food to children who are eligible for free or reduced breakfasts and lunches,” she said. “For some, without this food, they wouldn’t have much to eat over the weekend.”
Contact SCFB, Yavapai Food Council, or your child’s school or daycare center to find out how your child might be helped by this program. And for more information, visit sedonafood
bank.org or call 204-2808.