Bryant Elementary School and their Parent, Teacher, and Student Association (PTSA) is partnering with Hunger Intervention Program (HIP) to provide weekend food for students receiving free and reduced priced lunch in their community. This is an innovative program where teachers, parents, and students have come together to not only organize food drives to collect food and pack them for their neighbors in need, but also to incorporate issues of food security into their curriculum. The weekend packs are based on the model developed by HIP, called Healthy HIP Packs, which was designed by a registered dietitian to make sure a student’s nutrition needs are met for a weekend when school lunches are not available. Each pack includes two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, two snacks and fresh fruits.
In December, PTSA members and Bryant Elementary students began organizing food drives in their respective classes and will continue to do so through the end of the school year. Last month, Bryant fifth graders surpassed their initial goal of collecting food for 50 HIP packs and instead collected food and monetary donations that allowed them to fill 60. Each month a different grade will take turn in organizing the food drives. Parents, teachers, and students are coming together this Friday, January 8th at 7:00 pm to organize their first packing party. HIP is working closely with Bryant community to design a successful and sustainable program to feed hungry students. Once packs are ready, they will be delivered to HIP where fresh fruits will be added and then packs delivered to local schools.
“Bryant PTSA is coming out as a leader in addressing hunger in our community,” says Srijan Chakraborty, Executive Director of HIP. “It’s a great model where one school is taking up the responsibility to make sure students in other schools in their community are not going hungry. We hope this will inspire other schools to take up similar initiative.” Julie Pearson, Assistant Principal at Bryant, says “When PTSA Chair Leeann Huntington and I heard during the Seattle Leadership Institute last summer that 38% of students in Seattle Public Schools were on free and reduced lunch and that 4.5% were homeless, we saw an opportunity for our community to help. My hope is that other schools will be inspired by the model we’ve created here at Bryant.” Dan Sanger, principal of Bryant Elementary, says “Interest and involvement among our student body has been impressive. We anticipate that this program will make a significant difference by increasing student compassion, empathy and responsibility while addressing a real need in our community.”
In Washington State, one in five children lives in a food insecure household. It is our collective responsibility to make sure our children get nutritious food and all the opportunities to succeed, not only because they are the future of this country, but also because that’s the right thing to do. HIP is excited about this new partnership with Bryant Elementary School and their PTSA to improve food security for families in north Seattle community.