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Sun, Nov. 17

Humboldt School District's hungry kids get fed on weekends

Since August, about 25 students at Humboldt Elementary School have joined 75 other children at three more schools to help fill their empty stomachs on weekends.

The Hungry Kids Project serves children of families in need by providing basic meals on Saturdays and Sundays when they might not have enough to eat at home. Donations provide food only for the children, not adults, who are identified by school nurses, teachers and staff, said Carm Staker, one of the founders of Hungry Kids.

"We average about 25 children per school," Staker said, adding that HES is the newest school in the Humboldt Unified School District that includes Mountain View, Lake Valley and Coyote Springs elementary schools for a total of about 100 students.

Donations and grants run the operation, and a cadre of volunteers packs up low profile backpacks each Friday that go home with selected students. The backpacks contain such food items as two cans of vegetables, one apple, one orange, raisons, peanut butter and crackers - one week may have peanut butter, the next week crackers - cereal for two days, and ramen.

"Sometimes we have ravioli in cans, or canned tuna or chicken. Sometimes, if someone makes donations like mac and cheese, but that's not regularly done," Staker said. "The menus are planned by Tami (Hitt-Wyant, HUSD director of food and nutrition), nutrition specialist with the district."

About 30 volunteers from different church and synagogue congregations and service clubs provide the hands needed to pack and deliver the backpacks to schools. The Prescott Valley Methodist Church offers a room once a week, and Humboldt El uses a classroom for the assembly lines that fill packs.

Staker said this is a project that is not supported by taxpayers' dollars; 100 percent of monetary donations go directly toward the purchase of food, and volunteers contribute the labor.

"It's sad that we have families that need help, but we are glad to do what we can," she said.

To donate, volunteer, or request a speaker, call Carm Staker at 928-772-9563.

"I would be thrilled to come to any groups or organizations. The more contacts we make, the more children we can serve."

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