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The Humboldt Education Foundation’s (HEF) mission for the Hungry Kids Project (HKP) is to enable students to learn, by eliminating childhood hunger. The project was started in 2010 by retired nurse and public official, Carm Staker because school staff were discovering that learning was being impacted because students did not have access to adequate weekend meals. In 2015, when Ms. Staker founded HEF, the project became the primary focus of the Foundation. Last year, prior to Covid-19, 62.5 percent of the children in the 10 Humboldt Unified School District (HUSD) schools were eligible for free and reduced meals at school five days a week.
John Agan, Chairperson of the HK project said, “The names of those referred to the project are confidential. Prior to Covid-19, the amount of weekend meals served was 180; since in-person school began in October, volunteers have packed as many as 350 meals a week.”
Prior to the virus, the HKP annual cost was approximately $36,000. Jim Clemens, president of HEF said, “This now indispensable service would not be possible without the generous contribution of two major corporate donors who wish to remain anonymous.” HEF has also been successful writing grants and local churches generously donate on a regular basis. Monetary donations are used to purchase items through partnerships with school food and nutrition services and local grocery stores. There are three additional Hungry Kids Projects (Prescott, Chino, and Mayer) – each one operating independently.
Hungry Kids labor costs are currently low as the purchasing, packing, and distribution of the food bags is all done by HKP volunteers. Food donations are appreciated, but the HKP has an extremely specific list of items they accept based on specific nutritional needs. Each pack costs approximately $6.50 and includes a can of meat, canned veggie, canned beans, mac n cheese, top ramen, cold cereal or oatmeal, fruit and applesauce cups, and individually wrapped craisins or sunflower seeds.
During the school year, students that are referred to the project are provided with 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches, and 2 dinners each Friday. The most rewarding part of the HK project is that students have full bellies Monday morning and are ready to learn!
How can the community help? Monetary donations are what is needed right now, especially with the increase in requests since in-person learning started. Please visit humboldteducationfoundation.org/projects/hungry-kids-project/ and click the donate button at the bottom of the page. Every February HEF sponsors a large food drive that has become incredibly competitive between the schools in the HUSD. For the 2021 food drive, HEF would like to get businesses to either collect or donate specific food items during the competition and deliver items to their favorite local school. Businesses who participate will be recognized on the HK website and Facebook.
In addition to the Hungry Kids, HEF’s primary focus is on the Teacher of the Year event. Other Foundation projects include The Carm Staker Student Scholarship Award, classroom grants for special projects, and the HUSD Student Orchestra Project. The Humboldt Education Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and an approved State of Arizona Qualifying Charitable Organization for Arizona Tax Credit program.
For more information on HEF, to become a board member, or to donate, visit the HEF website at humboldteducationfoundation.org/ or contact James Clemens at 928.499.2288.
Story made possible by Vince Moser Farmers Insurance of Prescott, Valley, AZ. Thank you, Vince!