Feeding Bodies, Minds and Futures… in the Philippines

It’s August, and families here in the United States are preparing for children to go back to school. Parents across the country will spend August wandering store aisles while clutching school supply lists, or pawing through the bin of kids’ sneakers looking for the right size, or maybe ordering school uniforms online. And while we may grumble about the prices, many of us will be able to provide these items for our children without too much difficulty.

But imagine what it’s like not to be able to purchase the items kids need to be successful in school. That’s the reality for too many families, not only here, but around the world.

Meet Veronica and Ana, two teenagers who live in a large city in the Philippines. Both live in a poor area, with too much crime, drug use and violence. But both have stable homes and families, and their parents work hard to make ends meet. Veronica’s parents wake up early each and every day to cook food and package it for sale in their neighborhood. Ana’s father also works in the food industry, as a fish vendor. He doesn’t have much income left over after paying their bills, not to mention debts they owe to neighbors who loaned them money for their kids’ educational expenses.

Neither of these families has the luxury of extra income for school supplies. Veronica helps her parents with the food sales, but the allowance she receives never goes for fun things a sixteen-year-old might enjoy. Instead she spends the money—when she has some—on basic necessities for school.

Veronica and Ana are both outstanding students who deserve to have their dreams nurtured. Veronica doesn’t have a lot of books herself, but devours the ones she can access for free online. She hopes to take up business management if given the chance to go to college. She dreams of buying a restaurant for her parents to help their food preparation business thrive.

For her part, Ana is deemed “a brilliant child” by those who know her. As an honor student, she has received numerous awards and medals through her academic work. She likes art and music and enjoys writing poems.

Ana
Ana

Both of these young women deserve a good education, free from worry. That’s why Feed the Children helps provide nutritious meals, supplies, backpacks, shoes, and educational workshops to Veronica and Ana and so many young people just like them.

Before, Veronica and Ana’s parents could never get ahead in terms of saving income—every penny went to the basics. Now, with assistance from Feed the Children, and made possible through countless partners and donors, they can start to get ahead. Both of these girls will be looking at college soon.

“Feed the Children has been helpful to us,” says Veronica. “Because of them I am more motivated in going to school, and I am more focused on my studies in order to maintain my scholarship.”

“Feed the Children has done so much to help me,” Ana agrees. “I am so thankful that there is Feed the Children! Because of the support that I have gotten, I have learned to value my studies even more than before, and to work harder and to be even better in my studies.”

This work is only possible because of support from people like you. Help children build bodies, minds and futures. Learn more about our educational initiatives and give what you can today.

 

News Roundup, March 14, 2016

Feed the Children Expands Partnership Reach

We’ve been working for more than 35 years to make the lives of children and their families better in the United States and around the world. That means we’re always working behind the scenes, looking for ways to increase our partnerships, make our processes better and more efficient, and keep our administrative costs low. Through its network of agencies, Feed the Children distributed more than $344 million in food, essentials, educational supplies, and medicine, impacting close to 9 million individuals in the U.S. and more than 4.9 million individuals internationally.

Recently members of Feed the Children staff attended a “supply chain” conference in Dallas, where we offered a presentation entitled “Solution Based Product Donations: Keeping Unneeded Good Product Out of the Landfill and Out of Your Warehouse.” Mike Ghassali, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations, made the presentation for us, and several Feed the Children staff attended the conference, staffed a booth with information about Feed the Children, and networked with potential partners.

Our work with corporate partners helps them serve their communities by giving them the means to donate good-quality unused products to families in need who could use these supplies. This conference helped us connect with even more potential partners and helped position us as a great choice to receive excess inventory. We also met with people who offered us their technical and programming expertise, so we can do our work even more effectively.

Image from left to right:

Chet Jones, Director of Gifts in Kind Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations, Corporate Donor Relations
Mike Ghassali, Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations
Chris Splitt, Senior Director of Corporate Donor Relations, Corporate Donor Relations
Hogan Thomas, Senior Director of Logistics/Inventory Management, Logistics/Inventory Management
Wendy Henderson, Director of Gifts in Kind Partnerships, Corporate Donor Relations

Books for Kids

C0ACBE4B-3358-4FBC-82F4-555D4DEA4F44Half Price Books has been giving away free books to a variety of organizations during its 43-year history. In 2015, the company set a goal to give away a million books, a goal they exceeded by more than 50%. Feed the Children was honored to receive a shipment that included the millionth book! We’re grateful for the partnership with Half Price Books. The books we receive are given to children in need through our domestic programs.

To read more about the program, click here.

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Anti-Hunger Policy Conference

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced new USDA efforts to improve access to healthy foods for women, infants and children at the 2016 National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference hosted by the Food Research & Action Center and Feeding America. Over the past seven years, USDA has enhanced federal nutrition programs, providing a critical safety net for millions of American children and families.

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Our own programs rely on partnership with the USDA. For example, in 2014, Feed the Children launched the Summer Food & Education Program, which partners with the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. The program combines the federal support from USDA with Feed the Children’s logistics and transportation experience to bring food and hope to children throughout Oklahoma. Through the Summer Food & Education Program, Feed the Children served approximately 195,000 meals with the help of public funds and private partners to children at 11 sites within several cities, rural communities, and Indian Tribal organizations across Oklahoma. Read more about the project here.

The conference served as a kick-off to National Nutrition Month, observed throughout March, and was attended by anti-hunger advocates from across the country.

Africa Day for School Feeding

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March 1 was the first annual Africa Day for School Feeding, an observance sponsored by the African Union Commission, AU Member States and development partners. The day, which is centered on the theme “Home Grown School Feeding: a Conduit for Africa’s Sustainable Development”, was celebrated with continent-wide activities and highlighted by series of official events in the Nigerien capital, Niamey.

Read more about the program here.

School feeding is at the center of our organization’s efforts in Africa. In Kenya, Feed the Children partners with the Ministry of Education and the World Food Program (WFP) to provide one meal a day to school-going children in the urban slums of Nairobi and in Kajiado Counties. The meal (mostly githeri – a mixture of maize and beans) helps keep kids in school and also keeps them productive in class.

In Tanzania, children in Kisarawe District receive mid-morning porridge fortified with vitamins and minerals thanks to Feed the Children. The porridge provides a strong incentive to keep children in school and helps them focus, as some of the kids do not have breakfast from home. Feeding children each school day creates a better learning environment.

In Uganda, Feed the Children provides two meals a day (mid-morning porridge and lunch) to children in two kindergarten classes located in Northern Uganda’s Gulu District. These are crucial meals for these children; the majority do not have breakfast at home, so the meals attract kids to attend school.

To learn more about our work around the world, click here.

Backpacks and Hope in Arizona

7-2015 CDR 3063 New HELP Backpack Photos -36-Feed the Children provided more than 2,000 backpacks to Marana Unified School District, Amphitheater School District, Tucson Unified School District and Sunnyside Unified School District on Wednesday, March 9. The backpacks, containing school supplies and snacks, will be distributed throughout the school year to students experiencing hardship.

Feed the Children has distributed more than 772,000 backpacks to American children who are homeless. Our Homeless Education and Literacy Program, or H.E.L.P., provided close to 65,000 backpacks to children in fiscal year 2014 alone.

News Roundup, February 24, 2016

Relief for Flint

In the wake of the Flint water crisis, Feed the Children has been mobilizing quickly and effectively, bringing together a variety of partners to provide immediate help to the area.

In April 2014, Flint’s water supply was diverted from Detroit to the Flint River. This led to the highly corrosive Flint River causing aged water pipes to leach lead into the public water supply, creating a health danger. In January 2016, Flint was declared to be in a state of emergency by Governor Rick Snyder.

Thanks to corporations, congregations, non-profits, and numerous individuals working together with Feed the Children, residents of Flint are receiving provisions to provide relief in the wake of this tragedy. A few recent examples:

Nature Made (Pharmavite) has donated and transported supplies of Vitamelts from Ontario, CA to Flint. The Children’s Dream Center received this donation and is working to distribute it to residents. The Vitamelts contain Vitamin C, which helps reduce the absortion rate of lead in the body. Medical experts estimate that some 12,000 children may have been exposed to lead poisoning in the town.

12654477_10153854083818798_2261554385516104918_nNiagara Bottling, LLC has been an invaluable partner to help alleviate the urgent crisis in Flint. The company has generously donated 28.5 semitruck loads of 0.5-liter bottled drinking water for relief efforts. This equates to 30,780 cases, 738,720 bottles, and more than 369 tons of water. The water donated by Niagara Bottling, LLC is being delivered to a warehouse in Flint during the next few weeks, where it will be distributed to the general public.

A number of organizations are working to get donated water delivered to Flint. Crossings Community Church and Acts 2 United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City are sponsoring transportation costs for five semitrucks full of water. This water is being delivered to community-outreach centers in Flint thanks to the generosity of these congregations.

“At Crossings we are committed to resolving the deadly water crisis in the third world. It would only stand to reason that we would follow the example of Jesus by extending fresh, clean water to our neighbors in Michigan as well,” said Pam Milligan, Pastor of Missions and Outreach Ministries at Crossings Community Church.

“Acts 2 has been providing clean drinking water around the world in places like El Salvador and Guatemala by putting in water wells for years. We never dreamed our own brothers and sisters in the United States would need it, too,” said Dr. Mark Foster, Founding Pastor, Acts 2 UMC. “We are glad we can help. Our hearts our broken that we would need to provide clean water for citizens of one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Pray for good government.”

Living Faith Christian Center in Baton Rouge, LA has also joined forces with Feed the Children by sponsoring the costs of transporting water, donated by Niagara Bottling, LLC. Thanks to Living Faith, one semitruck of water will roll into Flint in the coming days.

“In life, we can take for granted the bare necessities that we need to live our everyday lives. It’s not until we are confronted with a crisis that we realize just how important these things are. The needs of the people of Flint, Michigan must be met, and another life cannot be lost to such a tragic event,” said Bishop Raymond W. Johnson of Living Faith Christian Center.

Dray Technologies Inc. is also working with Feed the Children to provide disaster relief to Flint-area families. The company is covering all transportation costs for 13 semitruck loads of six-gallon jugs of drinking water, donated by Niagara Bottling, LLC, to support Feed the Children’s relief efforts.

It will take an estimated one million bottles of water per day to fulfill the basic water needs of the Flint community. The need is great and the situation is dire—we’re thankful to be a part of the solution, and you can be too. To contribute to this cause, please contact Feed the Children at 1-800-627-4556, or Kevin Richardson, Director of Church and Volunteer Engagement of Feed the Children, at 405-945-4196.

 

Backpacks Provide a Leg Up

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Americold and Feed the Children provided 500 backpacks to students at Seaborn Lee Elementary School in Atlanta earlier this month.

About 300 of the company’s associates assembled the backpacks for distribution, containing school supplies and basic hygiene essentials. Dozens if not hundreds of similar backpack builds are happening around the country in conjunction with Feed the Children’s H.E.L.P., Homeless Education and Literacy Program. This is Americold’s second program contribution.

The backpacks will afford local Atlanta, GA, students an equal opportunity to succeed in the classroom, creating a brighter future for those who otherwise may not have had enough to continue in school.

“In our first year of partnership, we’re proud to have ‘pick ‘n’ packed’ 500 backpacks with school supplies for Atlanta children,” said Fred Boehler, Americold’s President and CEO. “We also donated more than $30,000 in food transportation services, with 20 full semitruck loads supporting the Home Front Harvest and Feed the Children summer meal programs.” Americold hopes to build on these statistics in this second year of partnership.

“We are always delighted when local organizations form partnerships with our schools to enhance student learning,” said Kenneth Zeff, Interim Superintendent for Fulton County Schools. “Not only are you providing a gift that is useful right now, you are also inspiring students to think about the future.”

“Since the launch of our H.E.L.P. program in 2006, Feed the Children has distributed more than 772,000 backpacks to homeless students in America,” said J.C. Watts, Jr., Feed the Children President and CEO. “It’s because of partners like Americold that this vital effort is possible. Together, we can help these children succeed and work toward the greater goal of breaking the cycle of poverty.”

If you’d like to help give a child a good start to school with a backpack, visit our gift catalog.

 

 

 

Education is the Key: Jaqueline’s Story

Imagine having to choose which of your children will be the one to go to school. For too many parents around the world, this is the agonizing choice they must make.

Jaqueline is the lucky student in her household. Jaqueline, age 10, lives with her mother and two sisters in a small village in Nicaragua. Her older sister stays home with the younger one so their mother can work and Jaqueline can go to school. Each day between February and November Jaqueline joins almost 70 other students in a small school with three classrooms.

Jaqueline loves to play with dolls and toy kitchen sets. But she’s bright and imaginative enough to play with just about anything. During one recent visit she was seen amusing herself with a piece of plastic and a bunch of bottle caps. She enjoys her schoolwork too, and her favorite subject is literature. She loves to read, and even though she doesn’t own a book herself, she gobbles up the books her teacher brings to the classroom. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up, and she wants to teach the children in her community, in her words, “so they can study a lot.”

A decent education is one of the key elements in bringing kids out of poverty; in fact, it’s one the four pillars we focus on when engaging in community development. Education will give Jaqueline a fighting chance at a better life. But it’s a tough road. The unemployment rate is 90% where she lives, and her single mother ekes out a living working in tobacco, tomato and cucumber fields near their village. During harvesting season, Jaqueline’s mother earns about a hundred cordobas a day—that’s less than $4.

A wage like that is barely enough to keep the family’s pantry stocked with tortillas, rice and beans. A backpack full of school supplies would be unthinkable.

Unthinkable… except that individuals just like you have decided to stand with Jaqueline and help give her a future. Thanks to Feed the Children donors, partners, dedicated staff, and the engagement of the residents themselves, the unthinkable is now possible for Jaqueline and countless others.

*3-2015 NI0002 Jaqueline Morales  (1)Today, Jaqueline, her sisters, and other children in the village get a good nutritious meal five days a week. They receive shoes and other basics. And at the beginning of every school year, Jaqueline receives a backpack filled with school supplies that has allowed her to keep studying and help that dream of being a teacher to become a reality.

We know that helping lift children out of poverty is a multi-faceted process. For Jaqueline, a good meal means she’s able to focus on her studies without a grumbling belly. But the backpack gives her the supplies she needs to thrive in her studies. It’s also a tangible sign that we believe in her—that you believe in her.

Even at her young age, Jaqueline can see what this support has meant to her family: “Before, my mom was very sad when she could not pay for my school supplies, and she told me I would not be able to go to school. Now, I am happy, and she is happy, because I go to school.”

Jaqueline’s school year will be winding down soon—typically in Nicaragua, the children attend school between February and November. Here in the United States, however, the school year is well underway. Learn more about how our programs support education and how you can be a part of it.

H.E.L.P. Comes to West Virginia

August is a month in which we focus on back-to-school readiness–making sure kids have what the need to learn, grow and have success in school. Education is one of the four pillars of Feed the Children’s work, and we know kids can’t learn well if they don’t have their basic needs met. That’s why we take a multi-layered approach, providing not just food, but also school supplies and other essentials. We work closely with local organizations to make sure folks are part of a long-term effort to help them get on their feet and out of poverty for good.

Today we share a little more about our Homeless Education and Literacy Program, which provides backpacks and other vital supplies for children who are homeless. Read more about H.E.L.P. at this link.

Homelessness doesn’t just affect the big cities—it’s a problem that plagues small-town America as well. We partnered recently with a school district in West Virginia that has some 156 homeless children in 9 schools.

7-2015 CDR 3063 New HELP Backpack Photos -29-We provided a backpack and supplies for each of these young people, and staff at the schools let us know what a difference they made. On a survey evaluating the program, staff reported increases in attendance and self-esteem, and said the backpack program helped improve communication between school staff and the families.

The staff passed along their profound gratitude for the gifts H.E.L.P. provided: “The items provided in the backpacks are things that families on this level of income would never dream of being able to provide. Without your help in distributing these supplies, these children would simply go without.

Another staff member reported this: “One child couldn’t believe that she was going to have a backpack of her very own. This little girl also attends my church, and she brought the backpack to church with her the following week! She and her mother told me afterward how much they appreciated the gift. She also told me she sleeps with her backpack! Something that most of us take for granted can mean so much in the life of a child.”

During the month of August we’re inviting people to join us in providing hope for those without life’s essentials. Will you sponsor a backpack full of supplies (and a few goodies) so that a child is ready for school? It just takes a few moments. Here’s how.

H.E.L.P. for the Homeless

Summer is winding down, and children across the country are getting ready for another school year. For lots of kids, that means a new outfit for the first day, fresh unsharpened pencils and a perfect box of crayons, or a new backpack emblazoned with the latest cartoon character or superhero.

But for one population, back-to-school time can be a time of anxiety and stress for the whole family: the population of children in the United States who are homeless. Each year, 1.6 million American children go to sleep without a home of their own—and sadly, that number is rising.

Succeeding in school as a homeless child is tough. Algebra, anatomy and Animal Farm can be challenging enough without the stress of living on the street, jumping from shelter to shelter, or wondering whether your parents will be able find a job or provide for your basic needs. Unfortunately, these kids are three times more likely to drop out of school than kids with homes. Such a tragedy only feeds the cycle of illiteracy, poverty, and homelessness when these kids become parents themselves.

That’s why it’s imperative that we do everything we can to keep these kids in school. Education is the key to breaking the cycle and ensuring a better life. 

In fact, we know that if children who are homeless can remain in school, they perform as well as their peers over time. These kids will prove themselves academically and socially if given the chance. And their families want to work and contribute positively to society too.

But they need help. They need H.E.L.P.: Feed the Children’s Homeless Education & Literacy Program (H.E.L.P.).

H.E.L.P. is one of the few programs of its kind in the nation. Since its inception in 2006, the program has focused on providing children who are homeless with backpacks and basic supplies they need in order to be successful in school.

7-2015 CDR 3063 New HELP Backpack Photos -36-We stuff these backpacks with some of life’s essentials as well as a bit of fun: school supplies, ready-to-eat food, hygiene items, and of course, books. We work with homeless liaisons and schools across the country who know the face of homelessness and can help us connect and respond. These local partners deliver the backpacks to the students who need them most. They make this delivery privately to help preserve the dignity of these young people.

The homeless liaisons who hand out the backpacks tell us that children treasure these gifts. In some cases, the backpack is the only thing these kids own. The backpacks aren’t just a leg up on the school year—they’re a tangible expression of hope.

Since the beginning of H.E.L.P. almost ten years ago, we’ve distributed more than 700,000 H.E.L.P. backpacks. In 2013 alone, Feed the Children provided 65,000 backpacks to kids without homes.

Can we deliver even more in 2015? You can help by sponsoring one or more backpacks from our catalog. Click here–it’s fast and easy.

Feed the Children: Feed Futures by Feeding Minds

Malia loves books. While her reading level doesn’t match her age or grade, she digs in with gusto to any book she can get her hands on. When she is actually in class, her teacher can always count on her to curl up with a book any chance she gets.

Malia, her brother, two sisters, and mom are what her school considers to be homeless. The Los Angeles Unified School District’s Homeless Education Program describes the challenges faced by students like her in a letter they wrote to us recently: “High mobility, precarious living conditions, and poverty have an enormous impact on the educational success of our students.”IMG_6090

Malia doesn’t get to attend school every day like the other kids because her address keeps changing, on the days that she actually has an address. Catching the bus to school is nearly impossible. She misses many days of school because it’s just so difficult to get there.

Malia has her days, just like any child, in which she doesn’t want to do the work required of her. But most days, she’d rather be in school. Days outside of class are long, boring, and hungry. The school is cool in summer, warm in winter, and dry in the rain. The bathrooms have hot water, the lights stay on, and she gets to eat a good breakfast and lunch. And it has a library with books she can read for free. Even on a bad day, she has to admit that being at school beats being cooped up inside a car or wandering downtown trying not to attract unwanted attention.

In February, a Feed the Children truck rolled into Malia’s town and unloaded boxes full of backpacks, books, school supplies, hygiene items, and snacks at the school. Staff in the Homeless Education Program began calling students immediately, thrilled to surprise them with brand new backpacks and school supplies.

Malia remembers the day clearly. She had actually made it to class that morning, and the lunch had been a favorite. After the final bell rang, her social worker found her wandering toward the exit, a few papers and a tattered math book thrown into a plastic grocery sack.

“Malia, I have something for you.”

She followed the woman into an office where a beautiful brand-new purple backpack sat on the desk, its girth giving away that it held more than air and some packing paper.

“Open it up!”

Malia unzipped the bag (the zipper worked!) and breathed in the scent of new: crayons, colored and #2 pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, a notebook, folder, pencil pouch, scissors. Two new books to read. TWO! A re-sealable bag with soap, shampoo, comb, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Another smaller bag with granola bars and dried fruit. She couldn’t remember ever having her own brand-new school supplies.

“This is nice. Thank you!”

She tucked the grocery sack and math book into her new backpack, poked her arms through the straps, and walked out of school just like a regular kid. First order of business – find somewhere to curl up with her new books.

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At Feed the Children, we do just that. We feed children.


But if you’re like many of us, you may be asking yourself, “What do backpacks have to do with feeding? And what happens when the children you feed get hungry again? Is it enough to feed a child today? 

We say, “NO.”

Food for today is essential. People don’t function well when they are hungry, and children struggle to learn when their stomach is growling.

But unless we address the root causes of hunger, we aren’t changing anything.  Children and their families need the skills, education, and resources to provide for themselves and improve both their present and their future.

That’s why we feed futures by feeding minds. Going to school is one of the best ways to help people rise above the cycle of hunger.

But for children without a permanent home, going to and finishing school can seem like an insurmountable challenge. It’s all the more difficult when the adults in their lives can’t provide food on a regular basis, let alone purchase school supplies.

Every year, 1.6 million American children go to sleep without a home of their own. Imagine what their day is like when they wake.

So Feed the Children helps students stay in school by providing them with backpacks full of school supplies and personal care items. Since the launch of our H.E.L.P. (Homeless Education and Literacy Program), we’ve distributed over 700,000 backpacks to children in all 50 states who are homeless.

If feeding children in body and mind gets you jazzed, we’d love to have your help.

You can donate a backpack for a child who is homeless in the U.S.IMG_7445

Or, a Backpack Build event is a fun way for your group or organization to provide hands-on help for at-risk children right in your own community. For far less than retail cost, you can have brand-new backpacks and school supplies delivered to your door. Then gather your group, load up those packs together, and deliver them to local children in need! Contact us for more information.