When you look around Utah, Summit, and Wasatch counties, you see breathtaking vistas, bustling cities, and outdoor activities. You probably don’t think about poverty and hungry children.

Despite the thriving cities and beautiful views, though, too many children don’t have enough to eat. The latest statistics say 14.4% of children in Utah County, 14.5% of children in Wasatch County, and 13.4% of children in Summit County are food insecure. That means they don’t consistently have access to enough food for a healthy, active lifestyle.

These are the kids who rely on low- or no-cost school breakfast and lunch. But what happens to them on the weekends? That’s where we—and you—come in because nutrition is vital for kids. Every week during the school year, we send home backpacks full of donated food so that these children don’t go hungry. Here’s the rundown on the Kids Nutrition Paks:

Why target children?

Nutrition and having access to enough food is obviously important for everyone—and that’s what our food bank does. Sometimes, though, parents don’t use the food bank or can’t make it. In those cases, children are left without enough food to eat when school’s not in session.

Hunger in children doesn’t just mean a growling tummy—it has long-lasting consequences. Hunger can stunt a child’s intellectual capacity and modify brain architecture—possibly permanently. Those changes impact a child’s ability to learn, interact socially, and be productive.

What goes into a Nutrition Pak?

Everything we put into the backpack is either ready to eat or can be prepared by a child. Each Nutrition Pak includes seven items:

  • Entree: These can be any entree, as long as it’s microwaveable. Examples include a can of ravioli (must have a pull top), a Cup Noodles, or Easy Mac.
  • Juice: Must be 100%  juice in a sturdy container.
  • Granola-type bar: This item can be granola, fiber, or protein bar.
  • Dried fruit: Any dried fruit or a fruit and grain bar.
  • Crackers: Peanut butter or cheese crackers, or something similar.
  • Fruit pouch: This must either be a metal pop-top container or single-serving pouch.
  • Fruit snacks: Any brand.

We know nutrition is vital for children if we want them to have healthy, productive lives. So in addition to the other ways we help families, every week during the school year we put together 1,700 Kids Nutrition Paks for children in Wasatch, Summit and Utah Counties, so they don’t go hungry over the weekend. If you’re ready to help, we take donations of items for the packs, pre-assembled packs or monetary donations to buy supplies.