WICHITA, Kan.(KWCH) As kids gear up to return back-to-school, the Kansas Food Bank is making sure kids have a meal outside of school on a regular basis.
Food 4 Kids is a program designed to help children who, over the weekend, do not have free and reduced lunch available to them at school. Schools identify which kids are at risk of going home hungry then offer backpacks filled with food that they take home.
More than 6,000 kids at schools across the state receive bags packed with milk, cereal, and several other proteins like canned chili or ravioli, canned fruit, snacks, pudding, and crackers with peanut butter.
The bags are packed in the Kansas Food Bank warehouse then shipped to kids in all 85 counties. It's a program that's been around for about 14 years.
Organizers say it costs about $1 million a year to operate the program.
Food bank president and CEO Brian Walker says the need for assistance has stayed steady over the past few years.
"We all hear that the economy is getting better, and hopefully it looks like it is, but those folks that are working for a lower wage or working two jobs to make ends meet, it takes longer for the economy to get to them. If they have one thing that happens to them, it's a lot harder for them if they have a flat tire or they have an energy bill that's higher than they expected, so it's a lot hard for them."
Walker says he's met kids who have not only benefited from the food but also the resources.
"It's a great program because it does more than just feed kids. It connects them to somebody in the school and they feel that somebody cares about them."
Anyone that wants to volunteer can visit: kansasfoodbank.org.