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Food for the Mind

WEB-EXCLUSIVE: Giving Children Hope's We've Got Your Back program helps hungry Orange County children get the brain food they need.

Courtesy of www.gchope.org/weve-got-your-back

To volunteer, donate
food or money, contact
Elizabeth Saldana at
714.523.4454 or visit
gchope.org, where you
can make a direct
money donation.

You can't concentrate when you're hungry. So imagine what it's like being a 10-year-old trying to learn about multiplication or grammar and not being able to hear anything past the sound of your own growling stomach.

Unfortunately, many underprivileged local elementary school students experience this daily. There are currently 22,000 children in Orange County's elementary schools that have been identified as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. These are children who lack a fixed and adequate nighttime residence and are living in someone else's home due to loss of housing and economic hardship. But on the bright side, there are groups out there like Buena Park's Giving Children Hope, which offers the We’ve Got Your Back nutrition program, to help these children out.

“Giving Children Hope feeds our children, which allows us to feed their minds," says Valencia Park Elementary School Principal Emy Flores. "A hungry child cannot learn at the same rate as his non-hungry peers.”  

Giving Children Hope's goal with its program is to meet the needs of children identified as homeless in Orange County by providing a stable and nutritious source of food over the weekends. Within the 2010-2011 school year alone, We’ve Got Your Back has served over 1,000 children in 24 schools from eight different Orange County districts. Recently, the organization invited five new schools to join the program and the goal is to invite 10 more to participate in order to reach the larger goal of providing nutritious food on a weekly basis to over 2,000 children by the end of the school year.

Every week, an underprivileged child gets to take a backpack home filled with food; the child returns the backpack the following Monday to have it restocked and ready to be picked up on the next Friday. The backpack menu consists of cereal, evaporated milk, canned fruit, peanut butter and jelly, canned meat, soup and vegetables, 100% real juice, and much more. The goal is to teach the kids the value of nutritional food as well as provide enough food, for the weekend, for a family of four.

Giving Children Hope accepts and encourages donations to be able to keep doing what it does. For every dollar donated, approximately $38 worth of product is distributed. Plus, the Dhont Family Foundation has issued a $25,000 matching grant challenge in order to feed more children. For every dollar donated through December 1, 2010, the Dhont Family Foundation will match it.

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