Back-To-School Checklist

Labor Day weekend is over, and school is back in session. Many New Jersey kids are stocking up on notebooks and pencils. But for nearly 340,000 children, their families won’t be able to afford a new backpack, let alone a meal.

Parents and teachers know how important it is for kids to have access to the tools they need to learn. Children know it too. That’s why the Community FoodBank of New Jersey’s list of back-to-school essentials includes paper and crayons, as well as healthy food.

While the summer months tend to be the toughest time of year for food insecure kids across the state, the school year isn’t any easier. When class is back in session, they receive the breakfasts and lunches they rely on to get through the day. But after school is a vulnerable time; school lunch is the last meal for many.

Our Kids Cafes across the state provide nutritious food for children in after-school programs. Some of these kids shared how hunger affects their ability to learn and what healthy food means to them.

“I’m really hungry when I get out of school,” 12-year-old Joudan told us. “It feels really good to have a meal after a long day of work.”

She isn’t the only one who is grateful for the healthy after-school meal the FoodBank’s Kids Cafes serve. The dishes include protein, grains, fruits, vegetables and dairy.

The kids also agree about how hunger affects them.

Kenneth, 12, told us that when he’s hungry he has trouble concentrating. “You’re really not focused on anything and you’ve got this headache and you just want to sleep,” he explained.

“I feel like I can’t focus that much,” 11-year-old Amy shared.

And 8-year-old Darielys said, “If we didn’t have the food program, everybody would be hungry.”

Kids Cafes are just one part of how the FoodBank — with your help — serves food to fuel a better future.