One reason we exceeded our expectation is that this year, instead of including snacks with our daily menus, we provided tuna and pinto beans as extra meal items. Both were well-received and have been added to the menus for the current year. Together, we and our partner schools distributed 37,990 nutritious, take-home meals to vulnerable young Yakima Valley children.
Our long-standing relationship with Yakima Valley schools highlights to us the issue of child hunger. The free/reduced lunch eligibility rates of Yakima County schools average 80%, well above the state average of 46%. Of the 614,000 people served last year by our 22 Yakima County food banks and meal programs, children represent 41%. This is among the highest percentages of any county in Washington. It means at least 250,000 Yakima children live in households at risk of hunger, so we would welcome any initiative by the Foundation to improve support or access to child nutrition programs, public or private. Second, we treasure our Yakima farmer relationships and the millions of pounds of high-quality produce they provide, not only for our Yakima partners but our entire statewide network. We continually promote farm-to-food bank relationships within our network, and we would love to see more ways to get Yakima’s nutritious surplus produce to hungry households.
You can learn more about Northwest Harvest on their website.