Weekender Meal Program
Providing supplemental weekend food to inner-city schoolchildren who would otherwise get inadequate nourishment on Saturdays and Sundays.
To most schoolchildren, weekends are an eagerly anticipated break—an opportunity to trade the rigors of education for more enjoyable activities. But for many of Toledo’s inner-city students, weekends are more than a recess from learning; they are a two-day interruption in their primary source of nutrition. Cut off from government lunch programs, these students receive little—or nothing at all—to eat on Saturday and Sunday. By Monday morning, they are too hungry to concentrate on their class work.
Mobile Meals of Toledo’s Weekender Meal Program provides nutritious and ready-to-eat food to children who would otherwise get inadequate nourishment over the weekend. Students who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches receive a bag of food to take home with them every Friday afternoon during the school year.
The bags contain kid-friendly snacks such as cereal, fruit, juice, granola bars, pudding, and crackers and peanut butter—all are healthy items, require no refrigeration, and are easily opened by children. The Weekender Meal Program helps ensure that students have enough to eat throughout the weekend so they can start each school week nourished and ready to learn.
The Weekender Meal Program grew from a unique collaboration among several area nonprofit organizations.
The Weekender Meal Program grew from a unique collaboration among several area nonprofit organizations. Teachers at Central City Ministries of Toledo first recognized that students were antsy and unfocused at the beginning of each school week; after several students began requesting second helpings at lunchtime school officials realized that the children were suffering the effects of hunger.
CCMT approached Leadership Toledo for help in researching the feasibility of launching a weekend food program. As part of their research, members of the Leadership Toledo project team asked Mobile Meals of Toledo to structure a plan for ordering and assembling the food and delivering the bags to schools. The planning process resulted in a workable concept. However, CCMT lacked the financial resources to fund the program.
As word of the need for the program spread, interest in helping launch the initiative grew. Board members and leadership staff of Mobile Meals began meeting with representatives from other area nonprofit organizations to propose a jointly sponsored pilot program.
Monetary contributions from Ronald McDonald House Charities, Old Newsboys Goodfellow Association, and Kiwanis Youth Foundation, along with donated labor and operational support from Mobile Meals, enabled CCMT to offer the Weekender Meal Program to its qualifying students for calendar year 2008. Thanks to the combined commitment of these organizations, students at two CCMT schools began receiving their first bags of food in January 2008.