For Tukwila’s homeless children, their food, like their housing, sometimes isn’t readily available.
That’s why the Tukwila Weekend SnackPack Program was started about 18 months ago, to send home for the weekend a big bag of snacks for children who qualify under the federal McKinney-Vento Act.
For these children, it’s possible that parents aren’t home to prepare meals for them on those days when they’re not at school, where free meals are available.
“This is their security blanket,” said Jenny McCoy, organizer of the program. “They know that whatever happens, they’ve got their bag. And they have their food.”
The food is intended to feed an individual child and not an entire family, which are served by local food banks, including Tukwila Pantry.
Now the SnackPack Program needs some help for the rest of the school year to keep its storehouse full at the Southcenter Community Baptist Church on Macadam Road. The last distribution before summer is Friday, June 17, so the donations are needed no later than Monday, June 13.
All the food that’s donated by then will be distributed to 116 students at Thorndyke and Cascade View elementary schools.
“We could use a big burst of donations,” McCoy said. When the food is scarce, the program relies on cash from donations to refill the shelves.
Food can’t be stored over the summer, but the program will again ask for donations this fall before the distribution begins in late October or early November.
The food must be shelf-stable and individually wrapped. Here are examples of what’s needed:
• Easy Mac n Cheese
• Fruit cups
• Ritz Crackers
• Cheese & Crax
• Nutrigrain bars
• Dry cereal
Products containing peanuts can’t be accepted because they can cause allergic reactions.
The SnackPack Programs has four locations to drop off donations, where there is a complete list of what’s needed. More information is also available on the program’s facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/TukwilaWeekendSnackPack. Click on “About.”
The four locations are the 6300 Building at the Tukwila City Hall campus, 6200 Southcenter Blvd., the Tukwila Community Center, 12424 42nd Ave. S., Thrift It, 14404 51st Ave. S., and Inspirus Credit Union, 5200 Southcenter Blvd.
The program also accepts financial donations, which can be made on the Facebook page (click on About) and at the Foster-Tukwila Presbyterian Church website, http://www.ftpc.org. Click on “Giving online” and then select SnackPack Fund under Giving type.
SnackPack is also setting up a non-profit corporation, Still Waters: Services for Families in Transition, but is not yet able to receive donations through it, according to McCoy. The first board meeting is in June.
Next school year, the goal of the program is to serve all three elementary schools, which would include Tukwila Elementary, and offer a self-serve pantry to high school and middle school students where they regularly gather. A location hasn’t been selected.
The volunteer organization came out of an ad hoc committee composed of members from PrayTukwila (a group which gathers each month to pray for our community), a representative from Union Gospel Mission, a School Board member, and representative from Mother2Many, a ministry to homeless teens.
“Although many of our volunteers are members of Foster-Tukwila Presbyterian, we have recruited a lot of community members who share our vision to feed hungry children,” said McCoy, who is the church’s office manager.