Weekend Survival Kits Help Homeless Baltimore Children
October 11, 2016
At the Maryland Food Bank, we often talk about our impact in large terms: 44 million meals. 1,250 distribution partners. 760,000 people in need. These figures reflect the scope of our work accurately, but behind them is a mosaic of programs, partners, and clients that bring our mission to life. Today, consider the impact of one of our most unique programs: Weekend Survival Kits.
While thousands of Baltimore City children have come to rely on Free and Reduced meals during the school week, there are many students whose families don’t have reliable housing and are left to fend for themselves once the weekend arrives.
“The school systems only provide food Monday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, there are very few facilities available within the city of Baltimore where these children can access food,” said Christian Wilson, a local resident and volunteer.
Wilson and his wife, Pamela, started the Weekend Survival Kit Program after they met with local school officials who brought attention to the fact that many of their students were homeless and would go without food, or with very little food, over the weekends.
“They told us when the kids come in on Monday, they’re tired,” Pamela Wilson said. “They’re tired and they’re annoyed. Their behavior in school is effected by being hungry.”
After the Wilsons learned about this issue, they decided to take action with help from local churches in the Charles Village neighborhood. The couple started assembling kits of shelf-stable foods and handing them out to school students in need. Each kit includes foods — such as bread, peanut butter and cereal — that don’t need to be prepared or stored in a kitchen.
“These kits are designed to provide food for people who don’t have access to refrigeration or heating appliances,” Wilson explained.
The Weekend Survival Kit Program, which officially partnered with the Maryland Food Bank as a pilot program in 2013, served 50 homeless students in four Baltimore City schools every week during that first school year. Last year, the program expanded to reach100 students with the help a one-time grant that expired at the end of the school year. This year, program managers are hoping to raise additional funds through donations in order to reach as many children as possible.
“We’re working very hard to bring in the extra money to make sure this program continues,” Pamela Wilson said. “Every little bit helps.”