When Tacoma mom Anne Jones learned about hungry kids in the Tacoma School District, and that many teachers were reaching into their own pockets to buy food for kids, she decided that she needed to do something to help. That was in 2016 when Snacks for Schools was born.
Pre-COVID, the volunteers mostly delivered snacks to kids at Tacoma elementary schools that have 70 percent or more families receiving free and reduced lunches. Those snacks would have been powering them through standardized tests this spring, if things were normal.
Now, Snacks for Schools has much larger goals — to provide groceries to families who need it most. Every week, volunteers raise money, shop, organize, and distribute bags of groceries (lots of kid-friendly foods, like cereal and microwave macaroni) on Thursdays at Baker Middle School in Tacoma. The 50 or so bags are full of shelf stable items like canned goods, oatmeal, and Ramen — even toilet paper. The bags cost about $600-$700 a week.
“We’ve been filling these with financial donations from caring community members and we have accepted many bags of food as well. It’s overwhelming to see the way people have stepped forward during this crisis. People who are out of work are some of the most generous donors,” Jones said.
Many people who are helping learned about it through social media.
Snacks for Schools is just one community group providing assistance at Baker to neighbors in that areas — Northwest Harvest, World Vision, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters are just a few more trying to help. The need is great, and donations get snapped up quickly.
Jones and the other volunteers rely on the wisdom and connections of community liaison Megan Clark from Birney Elementary and Amy Latimer, principal at Baker Middle School, who are both strong student advocates.
Baker was chosen because Latimer and Clark are strong partners and make sure the food gets to people who need it most. It’s also because of location — Baker is in the center of a residential area that doesn’t have a food bank nearby. “We’re not trying to replace a traditional food bank, but we’re hoping we can make the week a little easier for our kids and their families,” Jones added.
Participating in Snacks for Schools also has been a great learning experience for her sons, Wilson, 14, and Taylor, 10. They are a strong part of the bag assembly team.
You can help the cause by donating to the GoFundMe here.