BITE2GO: SERVING STUDENTS FACING HUNGER – JANUARY 20
Author: Steve Durham
Bite2Go is a weekend food program for students facing chronic food shortages at home. Bite2Go gives children access to a mix of nutritious, nonperishable and ready-to-eat meals and snacks for the weekend, helping kids return to school ready to learn on Mondays.
At the heart of the program is the adoptive organization. Bite2Go relies on businesses, churches and civic groups to “adopt” a school, and through that engagement and funding model, provide students with food for the weekends through the school year.
Today more than 150 adoptive organizations enable Second Harvest, in partnership with At The Core, to provide food to nearly 8,500 elementary, middle and high school students in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and a growing list of rural communities.
In many cases, the generosity of our adoptive organization extends beyond funding the program. Through its employees, a Spokane commercial real estate brokerage, NAI Black, provides clothing and school supplies to the kids at Bemiss Elementary, while Douglass Properties has been involved in schoolwide lunches and leadership classes at Shadle Park High School. The property management firm also purchased gifts for the school’s teachers during the pandemic.
Tom Stevenson, president of At The Core and Bite2Go co-founder, notes that many of the program’s adoptive organizations have been involved for years.
“If you’re just writing checks, it’s easier to move on, but when volunteers are going into the schools each week and getting more involved, it becomes more personal to them,” Stevenson says. “In many cases, the meal deliveries are just the first step, because it gives them the chance to listen to the school and wrap their arms around them in other ways.”
In the current environment, the adoptive organization model that funds Bite2Go has taken on new importance. Even as food banks across the country face big challenges including obtaining food and paying more for the food they can get, the adoptive organization model insulates Bite2Go from some of those challenging market conditions.
Because Bite2Go is a funded program, we don’t have to rely on food donations which, in the current climate, can be unreliable. The program is also able to work with national vendors to negotiate better pricing that helps offset the worst effects of food inflation.
While the times are challenging, the Bite2Go program expects to thrive. There is strength in community, and the donors and volunteers who join forces with school counselors and teachers to look out for the most vulnerable among us are clear in their vision of a world without child hunger.