Studies show that kids who don’t get enough to eat can suffer emotional and physical effects that hamper their ability to do well in school and succeed later in life. Despite the enormous wealth in Silicon Valley, one in three local kids struggles with hunger. That’s why Second Harvest Food Bank has launched its Stand Up for Kids Campaign to raise $7 million to end local childhood hunger by the end of May.
“Education is the key to earning a decent living, but hunger is depriving kids of a good education, and the cycle of poverty continues,” said Kathy Jackson, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. “We have enlisted the support of local tech leaders because too many kids aren’t getting enough to eat right here in Silicon Valley. When kids get the nutritious food they need, they are better prepared to learn. They have the energy to pursue their dreams.”
Campaign co-chairs include Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook (pictured with Second Harvest Food Bank volunteer Maria Chavez) and founder of LeanIn.org; John Donahoe, former CEO of eBay Inc., and Eileen Donahoe, director of Global Affairs, Human Rights Watch; and Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer at Facebook, and Erin Hoffmann, technologist.
Children who struggle with hunger are also at higher risk for health complications as well as behavioral issues, anxiety, and mood swings. “Those challenges affect all of us and have the potential to rob our future workforce of great minds,” said Sandberg, a resident of Menlo Park. “There are so many things about the world we can’t change – this is something we can. Every child deserves to go to bed without hunger and have the chance to meet his or her full potential. Second Harvest feeds 85,000 kids per month and has a remarkable track record of providing nutritious meals to families who need it most.”
Second Harvest has increased the number of school pantries in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties from 40 to 70 in the last year. Through its Tailored School Solutions initiative, Second Harvest is working with school districts where more than 70 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals to provide wraparound services to kids and their families, which could include a school pantry, nutrition education, and outreach services to connect families to other food-assistance programs like CalFresh (food stamps).
Second Harvest is also partnering with community groups and libraries to expand its summer pilot project that provides meals to kids and their parents or adult caregivers during the summer, a challenging time for families because kids don’t have access to the free and reduced-price meals they receive at school. Through its Lunch at the Library program, Second Harvest pays for the adult meals while the federal Summer Food Service Program covers the kids’ meals. Kids have a more positive experience when they can eat with their parents and adults are more likely to bring their kids if they can also have a meal.
Second Harvest works through a network of nearly 330 nonprofit partners at more than 700 sites to ensure that kids and families have enough nutritious food to eat, including pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, schools, after-school programs, and community centers.
“The dollars raised will help Second Harvest expand our work with local schools and community organizations so that any child who needs a healthy meal can get one,” said Jackson. “That means creating more school pantries so families have access to fresh produce and other groceries, but it also means leveraging other resources like school breakfasts, the federal summer meal program, and CalFresh. We have to explore every option to make sure kids can eat.”
To learn more or get involved, visit www.SHFB.org or call 866-234-3663.