Food 4 Kids NM is a small organization in rural New Mexico, USA which supports low income school children by providing them with bags of food to take home over the weekend. These children qualify to be part of the school district’s food program which provides 2 daily meals to children on school days. Often times food at their homes over the weekends is sparse. Guru Simran Kaur, part of the Hacienda de Guru Ram Das Ashram community founded this project. Here’s what she has to say about it:
When I deliver food to these kids, I like to think I am serving God and Guru within each person. Last year, Food 4 Kids fed approximately 286 school children who are often without food over the weekend and holidays away from school. Currently, due to funding, we are only delivering food to 266 elementary school children each week. The goal is to serve 500 children a bag with 9-10 healthy vegetarian items each week. There are probably up to 1,000 children that would benefit from this seva. With just a little bit more toward each bag, we could give extra this holiday season and reach more children.
- NM one of the highest states in the country of child hunger
- On average one child in this Española valley goes to bed hungry each night
- Currently, we are feeding 266 elementary level school kids at four schools
- Children should not go hungry. One reason I want to feed children is because they cannot do anything about it. Children cannot do anything about the fact that there is no food in the home. An adult can get a job and buy some food.
- These children are our future leaders. When a child goes hungry, they cannot focus and the ability to learn is decreased. They get angry, frustrated, have behavioral problems, and are sick more often
- Considering they are becoming our future leaders; I think we better do a better job. How can they be good leaders? They will never be able to look out for others if they are only in survival mode.
- From whatever angle you look at it, childhood hunger is a problem. Most of these children drop out of school before getting to high school.
Some stories about the families we’ve helped:
- A 10 year old boy who the neighbors saw going through trash. The neighbors called police and they came to check and found that there was not a scrap of food in the house.
- A single mom with five kids; one child with a disability. She found out she had three stage cancer and she lost her job. She had to go on welfare.
These kids were added to the program. The parents told the school how relieved they were to have something for their kids to eat.
It is important to realize that even this small bag of food we give can make an impact. When the kids see us bringing the bags, they get so excited. Some of them ask: “Can I have my bag now?”
One time a principal told me, “Guru Simran, you do not realize that for many of these kids this bag of food is the one and only thing that is stable in their life; the thing they can count on weekly.”
I want to add more to the bags! And I want to be able to feed more kids; 500 kids a week is my goal for this year. There are probably about 1,000 kids that would benefit from a bag of food every week.
Some facts about the program:
- Each bag costs about three dollars
- The program is based on 20 hours of Seva (selfless service) per week
- During school holiday’s we like to give them extra because they will go for several days without food
- If we had $6 instead of $3 per kid, we could give them each a bag of mini carrots, a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter to take home over the holidays
- We would love to be able to give each kid a hygiene kit. For $1.10 per kid, we could give each kid a kit
- Every thing is aseptic and has to be able to be opened by a six year old. This affects the price. The food has to be able to be opened by the child without their having to use a can opener, knife, scissors and the food must not require cooking. (Single servings; no refrigeration). This makes the cost higher. Each bag includes 9-10 items (apple, banana, beans and rice, milk, juice, granola bar, raisins, cereal and cheese sticks
Food4KidsNM is one of the organizations supported by Sikhs Feed People.