For the nearly 30 percent of children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro who rely on free and subsidized lunches, every day that school is not in session is potentially a day they are at risk for hunger. TABLE’s Weekend Meal Backpack Program fills this gap by giving these children healthy, nutritious food they can rely on to get them through the weekend and return to school on Monday with a clear mind, ready to learn!
What actually goes into a typical weekend bag? Where does this food come from? And, what food donations does TABLE need?
We receive these questions often and they are great! So to ensure we utilize our donations to the fullest and that the children we serve receive the best and healthiest food possible, we wanted to let you know what a typical TABLE bag contains and provide answers to these questions.
With every bag we assemble, our goal is to include a variety of protein, fruits, vegetables, dairy, lower sugar and sodium items when possible, and whole grains when available. We have met with nutritionists to discuss the best items to include and utilize the government’s MyPlate guidelines to create a nutritionally balanced bag.
Here is a sample menu of the non-perishables items that may be found in a TABLE bag:
- 2 granola bars
- 1 oatmeal
- 1 snack
- 1 can tuna
- 1 can soup or canned pasta
- 1 box macaroni and cheese
- 1 boxed milk or juice
Because TABLE’s mission is to not only provide food to hungry kids in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, but to provide healthy food to hungry kids we also include on average 3 fresh fruits and/or vegetables in every bag. Much of our fresh produce comes from local, North Carolina farmers from whom we either purchase produce or receive donations. We also work with local partners such as Farmer Foodshare from whom we purchase seasonally fresh fruits and vegetables.
Now that you know what goes in a TABLE bag, what type of food donations do we need most?
While we have a general list of most wanted food items that can be found here, there are certain items we tend to use on a more frequent basis. For example, healthy snacks are always great to have, such as individually pre-packaged containers of nuts, Wheat Thins, Goldfish, trail mix, raisins, and fruit/applesauce pouches. Also, one-pound packages of spaghetti or pasta and 15 oz cans of tomato sauce are great to have on hand.
So, what are the different ways someone can donate food to TABLE? And when?
Food donations come from all over the place! Individual community members may bring extra food from their pantry. Local churches, businesses, schools, and neighborhoods host food drives. Through generous monetary donations, fundraisers, and benefit nights, TABLE is also able to purchase non-perishable food when necessary in order to feed even more hungry kids.
When do we accept donations? Any time of the year! But, we do see a greater need for donations in February, March, and April.
If you’re interested in donating food, you can bring it by our office during normal business hours. There is parking in the back. Just ring the doorbell and someone will come assist you with your donation!
What impact do your donations have on the children we serve?
When the bags are delivered Thursday afternoons and a child opens up their very own bag of healthy food their face lights up with excitement!
We’ve even heard stories about children opening their bags on the school bus on the way home because they couldn’t wait to dig into their bag because they were so hungry for an after school snack.
And, one snowy day, a TABLE employee was delivering a bag to a home and the mom answered, then called her elementary-aged son. He was so excited that he came running to the door to see what he got in his bag that week!
Your donations make a direct impact on the children we serve every week. Thank you for helping us achieve our mission and enabling us to deliver hope and smiles to the kids we serve.