This article was contributed by San Benito High School Communications Manager Adam Breen.
San Benito High School’s Food Services, Counseling Department and the Community FoodBank of San Benito have partnered to start a program for students in need called the Backpack Snack program. The effort is paid for by Title 1 funding, which provides financial assistance to schools with high numbers or high percentages of children from low-income families. The program also exists within the Hollister School District.
Every Friday since the beginning of February, between 18 and 33 students have been provided enough shelf stable food for two breakfasts and two lunches to supplement their diet throughout the weekend. According to a recent release, school officials initially identified approximately 50 homeless students and others who would benefit from the program, which SBHS Vice Principal Claire Grissom learned about from Mark Paxton of the food bank at a foster youth and homeless meeting offered by the San Benito County Office of Education. Any students who would benefit from the food, not just those who are homeless, can sign up with their counselor to receive it each week.
“Shelf-stable food will be items that do not need to be refrigerated and do not have to be cooked, but they also have to be items that students will eat,” Grissom said, noting that menu items can include bagels, cereal, snack bars, tuna and fruit.
The delivery to students is by their choice.They can either pick it up in the counseling office or cafeteria at the end of school each Friday, or it can be delivered to them at the end of the day in their classroom in a nondescript package.
SBHS Food Services Director Jim Lewis also helps determine what will be put in the bags. The school initially budgeted to provide food to 100 students, the release said.
“We welcome suggestions from parents and the public if they know of a student who is in need and attends SBHS,” said Grissom, who can be reached by email at [email protected].