Tag Archives: hunger

The Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program Tackles Childhood Food Insecurity

alanna ashia packing
Written by Alanna Mallon
The Cambridge Weekend Backpack program (CWBP) is gearing up for it’s second full year and is looking to expand! CWBP provides weekend food for Cambridge Public Schools students and their siblings whose primary source of nutrition is the school cafeteria. These are students who might otherwise go without adequate nutrition over the weekend. The 5 lb. bag of food, which is sent home discreetly in the student’s backpacks, contains two breakfasts, two lunches, nutritional snacks, milk and fresh fruit. These meals ensure that all students are ready to learn on Monday mornings!

The program was founded in the Winter of 2013 as a pilot program in one Cambridge Public School with 15 participants.  The pilot program was generously funded by the Cambridge Health Alliance pediatricians and the parent led non-profit at the pilot school.  With incredible community and local business support, the program was rapidly expanded to include 7 schools and 150 participants in the school year 2013/14.  This year the founder and local mom, Alanna Mallon, hopes to further expand the program and reach many more children who will greatly benefit from the food safety net that the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program food provides.
The teachers and administrators in the schools that the program operates in are thrilled with the support that the program provides and many have commented that the extra food not only combats food insecurity, but that it is having a very positive impact on student achievement.  Students are much better able to engage in learning and thrive academically, as they aren’t hungry or worried about where their next meal is coming from.  The program has helped with absenteeism as well; when you are well fed, you are less prone to getting sick.  Additionally, the program has served as a family engagement tool with many families expressing that they now feel like their family is being taken care of by their school community.
For more information on the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program, please find their website here, or follow us on twitter and facebook.  You can also email the founder, Alanna Mallon, at alanna@cambridgeweekendbackpack.com.
To donate, please send a check to:
Friends of Tobin
197 Vassal Lane
Cambridge, MA 02138
attn: Weekend Backpack Program

How to Speak Out Against Hunger

In my last post, I introduced Hunger Action Month, a national initiative to Speak Out Against Hunger. This highlighted the need to raise awareness about hunger in our region to make sure every person in need has access to nutritious food. We know that more than 800,000 people in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts utilize the emergency food system. Building awareness is critical in our efforts to end hunger.

To raise awareness, and help generate critical emergency food assistance funds next year, The Greater Boston Food Bank has embarked on a multimedia Paper Plate Campaign.  We encourage everyone to get involved in this initiative by writing a message on a paper plate to tell legislators why hunger relief funding should be increased next year.  Include your zip code so that we can deliver the message to your elected representative or senator. The plates we collect will be on display in Boston City Hall during the month of October, and delivered to your legislator next spring when we advocate for emergency food assistance funding.

Plates can be mailed to:

The Greater Boston Food Bank
Paper Plate Campaign
70 South Bay Ave
Boston, MA 02118

Or tweeted to @Gr8BosFoodBank using #Paperplate

So far, we have collected hundreds of plates from clients, volunteers, and members of the general public. Some are physical paper plates, and others have been tweeted using #paperplate. View our online gallery.

You can get involved and make a difference. To learn more about the Paper Plate Campaign, watch our informational video.

Speaking out against hunger is simple. Grab a paper plate and your favorite writing implement, and tell your legislator why they should help end hunger during the next Massachusetts budget season.