5 easy ways to help hungry kids

PB&J with the crusts cut off. Plain pasta. Cheese sandwiches.

Arming our picky-eaters with nutritious meals can be challenging this time of year, but for so many kids in our region, the worry is not about what they’re willing to eat, it’s about having nothing to eat at all.

Nearly one in five local kids don’t have enough to eat and 100,000 King County students rely on free or reduced price school meals.

Our Fuel Your Future program provides nutrition education to over 3,000 students each year and works with over 85 schools to improve access to healthy meals.  We work to find creative solutions – like having breakfast in the courtyard of middle schools – to make it easy for kids to access healthy food.  Our goal is that every kid has access to three healthy meals every day.

As kids and teens head back to school, here are five ways that we can make sure that kids have the fuel they need to thrive:

1. Fill Out Those Free Lunch Forms: Many families don’t know that their kids qualify for free or reduced price school meals or how to apply for assistance. Families should apply now – even if they completed an application last year. Below are links to the application for all King County school districts.

2.  Advocate for Breakfast After The Bell: WA ranks 45th in the nation in school breakfast participation among low income kids. Kids who eat school breakfast have better attendance, stronger test scores, and fewer visits to the school nurse. So even kids who don’t face hunger benefit from school breakfast.  Bonus – schools leverage federal resources for every meal eaten.

The best way to increase school breakfast participation is to serve it in the classroom after the start of the school day.  Ask your school leader about what it would take to serve Breakfast After The Bell.

3. Get a Benefits Check Up: Fall is a great time for families to see if they are eligible for resources like Basic Food, Apple Health, or other resources. Visit Washington Connection or call  the Family Health Hotline at 1-800-322-2588

4. Vote on November 7: School Board elections are happening across King County. School Board members play an important role in creating policies that help students succeed – including access to nutritious meals. Ask candidates if they support Breakfast After The Bell or efforts to make sure students have adequate time to eat.

5. Volunteer: Hunger doesn’t stop on the weekends. Many area food banks and schools offer meals to kids on weekends and during school breaks. Volunteer to help these programs out.

We know that hungry students struggle to learn and thrive. That’s why United Way teamed up with No Kid Hungry, AmeriCorps, Hunger Is, Target, Farmers Insurance, Seattle Sounders, and local school districts to launch Fuel Your Future.

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