Childhood hunger is a devastating condition that pervades our community. At many of our schools, more than 80% of children rely on Free and Reduced Meals programs to get the nutrition they need. Unfortunately, these programs can only reach kids when they are at school. The Children’s Programs supplement Free and Reduce Meals by operating during times when children at not at school. By operating different service models during different parts of the year, we are able to provide kids with the food they need to be happy, healthy, and successful.

The Children’s Programs

The Backpack Program

The first Children’s Program, the Backpack Program, began in 2008 serving 50 children each weekend at McCarver Elementary in Tacoma. This program now serves more than 1,100 children each weekend at dozens of schools in Tacoma, Lakewood, and Puyallup. Each backpack provides two days of food so children can come to school on Monday well-fed and ready to learn. Our backpacks contain easy to access foods for children who are unable to cook. Foods include snacks, instant soups and meals, and an additional bag of fresh fruits and vegetables for increased nutrition.

Summer Meals

Summer Meals offers crucial nutrition for children during the summer, one of the hardest times for struggling families. Each weekday during the summer, we deliver healthy lunches to over 500 children at apartment complexes, schools, community centers, and gardens in Tacoma and Lakewood. The typical lunch that children receive in this program includes a sandwich, wrap, or salad, snacks, milk, and fresh produce like snap peas, carrots, grapes, and oranges.

Break Bags

An extension of our Backpack Program, this partnership with the Emergency Food Network provides even more food for 2,000 families in Pierce County schools during the longer Thanksgiving, winter, and spring breaks.

After School Snacks

After Schools Snacks partners with schools in Tacoma to feed 200 children once the school day is done. These snacks support children in programs that help teach them how to make good and healthy choices.

Interested in Receiving Food?

The Backpack Program, Break Bags Program, and After School Snacks work with school teachers, counselors, and administrators to get food to children. Please contact your school if you are interested in receiving food assistance. Summer Meals partners with locations throughout the county to deliver lunches and will post our locations above during the summer.

Who to Contact

If you have questions about the Children’s Programs or would like to volunteer, please contact our Children’s Programs coordinator, Claire Finnerty, at (253) 383-5048 ext. 4# or you can reach her at childrensfeeding@foodconnection.org.