Assistant Principal Heather Bennet escorted Baylina to the front office on a crisp fall morning. Baylina, all smiles and exuding nine-year-old enthusiasm, politely introduced herself and offered a tour of the school garden. This fourth grader at Ethel Baker Elementary School beamed about the recent harvest and eagerly showed off items still growing in the planter boxes. Her love of garden-fresh food comes from a new service offered by Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS) at schools over the past few years.
SFBFS started No Student Left Hungry in 2015 to addresses the shocking statistic that one in four children face food insecurity in Sacramento County. SFBFS partners with school districts and colleges to provide 17 food distributions on school campuses throughout our community every month, we deliver healthy options to local students and their families (usually 3-5 varieties of produce) and also offer education on healthier food choices.
No Student Left Hungry serves students of all ages, from kindergarten through university. Distributions occur at schools within Sacramento City Unified, Twin Rivers Unified and Robla Elementary school districts. Additionally, SFBFS supports distributions at Sacramento City College, American River College and Sacramento State University.
Once per month, Baylina, along with the 600 other students at Ethel Baker Elementary School, head to the multi-purpose room with backpacks facing forward. Teachers and volunteers fill each student pack with fresh fruits and veggies. “I like carrots because the vitamins help you to see,” shares Baylina.
“All of the students participate,” states Assistant Principal Bennet. 100% of the students at Ethel Baker Elementary School qualify for reduced or free breakfast and lunch so access to no-cost produce positively impacts every family’s budget. Many parents are out of work or not making enough to put healthy food options on the table. “This food makes a huge difference. And it exposes children to new food options,” shares Bennet.
Baylina chimes in, “The food is great! We can add the veggies to our pasta at home. And food helps out families when parents are sick.” The food Baylina receives goes a long way at home, helping feed her mother, father and two young sisters.
Reflecting upon items she’s tried over the past year, including onions, apples, potatoes, pears, Romanesco and watermelon, Baylina shares her favorite moment, “We’ve even had potatoes as big as your head!”
For more information about No Student Left Hungry, please click here.