Totes Of Hope, Home For The Weekend
"Totes of Hope" is a backpack project for kids who qualify for free or reduced lunch. In Natrona county, 150 children took part in the kick off this past weekend. The idea behind Totes of hope; To ensure that children get nutritious meals at home over the weekend.
"Every Friday they get a backpack that holds somewhere between five and seven pounds of food that they get to take home so they have access to food over the weekend. They bring their packs back on Monday and they're refilled again by volunteers so they can take them home again the following Friday."
Kim Summerhall-Wright, Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies Director, says the premise behind the program is that when kids get proper nutrition over the weekend they return to school on Monday better able to learn.
"Teachers were paying very close attention to their students and noticed that there was a problem when they came to school on Monday; they were lethargic, they didn't perform well, they wanted to go to the nurses office and things like that."
Those observers came to the conclusion that it was in part due to lack of full nutritious meals over the weekend. Summerhall-Wright says, here in Wyoming, they've seen a measurable difference in student performance before and after instituting the Totes of Hope Program. She says the recession has compounded the problem and there are about 4500 children who could qualify within our school district.
She says the Casper program is in the pilot stage while they work out logistics.
The program is supported by private donations, Wyoming foundation grants, and works in partnership with the Natrona County School District and Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies.