Monday, April 5, 2010

Qwest Foundation Grant Supports Backpack Program to Feed Homeless Students in Nampa

A $30,000 grant from the Qwest Foundation to the Idaho State Department of Education and The Idaho Foodbank is helping to provide weekend meals for 170 homeless students in the Nampa School District.

The number of children and youth identified as homeless in the Nampa area increased from 149 in 2008-2009 to more than 500 in the first quarter of the 2009-1010 school year. The State Department of Education recommended that the Qwest grant be used to provide weekend meals for chronically hungry students through The Idaho Foodbank’s Backpack Program. This statewide emergency food program provides 1,780 backpacks per week filled with nutritious food for elementary school students who are not getting enough to eat on the weekends. 

“We're honored to support The Idaho Foodbank and the critical work they do supporting those in our community who are in need,” said Qwest Idaho President Jim Schmit. “Supporting education is a top goal of Qwest in Idaho, but a crucial first step for helping kids learn is to make sure they have access to adequate nutrition and don't come to school hungry.”

The Qwest Foundation’s core principle is that investing in education provides lasting value for the future. The Qwest Foundation awards grant to community-based programs that generate high-impact and measurable results, focusing on pre-K through 12 education.

“This generous gift comes at an especially important time,” said Karen Vauk, The Idaho Foodbank’s President and CEO. “As more children depend on free school meals, more will need food assistance over the weekends when those meals aren’t available. The Qwest Foundation’s support of the Backpack program is crucial to our ability to supply the nutrition children need so they can come back to school on Monday ready to learn. We are grateful to the Foundation for its willingness to support our efforts to end hunger in Idaho.”

The State Department of Education works to address the problems that homeless children and youth face in enrolling, attending, and succeeding in school. Through the federal McKinney-Vento grant program, the Department ensures homeless students have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as other children. Each local school district is required to have a liaison who works with homeless students.

~ Melissa M.

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