Every weekend, the Meridian Food Bank provides six meals and snacks to more than 600 West Ada School District students at risk of hunger; but volunteers say, despite a seemingly healthy local economy, the number of students in need continues to rise.
Every school day, hundreds of West Ada students rely on free or reduced breakfast and lunch. So, come Friday of every week, the Meridian Food Bank steps in to help.
“What we provide to them are six meals,” said Dan Clark, Executive Director of the Meridian Food Bank. “…two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and snacks.”
Volunteers say the Backpack Program, now in its 10th year, has grown a lot over the last decade.
It now supports 622 students identified as “food insecure” by their school counselors.
“The problem is real, it does exist,” Clark said. “We’re trying to help them, you know, and we’ll continue doing that, no matter what it takes.”
At its peak, the program once provided 19,000 meals during a single school year. Now, organizers say they might hit that number again.
“We’re heading that direction right now,” Clark said. “We’re close to 11,000 meals and the school year is just barely half over.”
The Meridian Food Bank works with an $80,000 budget each school year for the program, and volunteers say those funds drain fairly quickly.
To donate to the program, click here.