For many children, the free meals that they receive in the school cafeteria may be the only food that they get for the entire day. And that’s just on the weekdays. On the weekends, children often go hungry because their families cannot afford to cover basic household expenses, including groceries. And when the school year ends, they lose the security of those two meals, making summer the hungriest season of the year for children in our communities.
Through the Windermere Foundation, many Windermere offices throughout our network support programs that provide weekend and summer meal programs. These programs help girls and boys at risk of hunger get access to nutritious meals outside of school.
Here are just a few of the programs that our agents and offices support…
For the past two years, the Windermere Redding office has supported an afterschool/summer program at Eagles Soar Youth Activity Center (ESYAC) with a monthly donation of $54 that they can use to purchase food, clothes, and other necessities. The program serves “housed” homeless kids—kids who live in transient housing such as motel rooms and trailer parks. It is a 100 percent volunteer organization that is funded by donations from the community. Program volunteers pick the kids up after school twice a week and they also have a summer events program. They feed and tutor the kids, provide them with clothes if needed, and send them home with food for the weekend. Over 90 percent of the kids they help are on the honor roll.
For the past two years, the Windermere Missoula office has supported the Missoula Food Bank’s Kids Empower Pack program. The Kids Empower Pack is a nutrition program helping kids stay nourished when school is not in session. School officials identify children living with chronic hunger and enroll them in the program. And every Friday, they are sent home with a backpack full of nutrition for the weekend. In 2016, the Missoula office donated $1,200, with half of the proceeds from their annual standup paddle board race being donated to the program. The program will be one of the beneficiaries again for this year’s event. Last school year, Kids Empower Pack was helping 528 local kids every weekend. In 2017, Kids Empower Pack will feed 750 kids every weekend.
The Windermere Gearhart and Cannon Beach offices support Warrenton-Hammond Healthy Kids, Inc., donating $500 to them in 2016 and $3,500 over the past six years. WHHKids currently serves Warrenton Grade School’s 771 students and Warrenton High School’s 261 students with food weekend backpacks, clothing, and hygiene items. The student population that receives free and reduced lunches is 55 percent. This is down from a high of 64 percent for the past few years. They also serve the district’s homeless population.
In 2016, the Windermere Portland-Raleigh Hills office donated $2,000 to Take Action INC. Take Action INC is an all-volunteer backpack program, non-profit organization, whose mission is to find resources to feed hungry kids, educate the public of the severity of childhood hunger in our midst, and encourage local communities to adopt schools of their own. One hundred percent of the grant is used to purchase food at a generous five percent discount from their Beaverton Grocery Outlet store partner to help 36 low-income families and feed 45 food-insecure kids at Hayhurst Elementary School.
Over the past three years, the Windermere Seattle-Wedgwood office has supported the Hunger Intervention Program with approximately $9,000 in Windermere Foundation grants. The program provides nutritious weekend food for students eligible for free or reduced price lunch when school lunches aren’t available, in addition to providing meals during the summer. The program currently serves students at Olympic Hills, John Rogers, BrierCrest, and ViewLands Elementary schools, as well as Kellogg Middle School and Nathan Hale High School.
Sometimes individual agents recognize a need in their communities and create their own programs, like Anne Jones, an agent at the Windermere Tacoma-Professional Partners office. After speaking with representatives from various schools, it was determined that food insecurity was a significant issue. So last fall, Anne created the Snacks for Schools program to support Tacoma area schools. The ultimate goal of the program is to not only provide food, but to also foster connections between community members and schools throughout the city. The program’s first delivery took place in March 2017 at First Creek Middle School, where they were able to provide a snack for all 750 students. In April, they stocked the pantry at Blix Elementary. So far, snacks have been provided for 2,400 students. With the help of other agents and community partners, the program hopes to reach 13 more schools during the month of May.
Thanks to the efforts of our Windermere offices and agents, we are tackling issues of food insecurity in our communities and helping our nonprofit partners provide nutritious meals for children in need. If you’d like to help support programs in your community, please click on the Donate button.
To learn more about the Windermere Foundation, visit http://www.windermere.com/foundation.