STAMFORD, Conn. -- Over 600 Stamford school kids take meals home with them on weekends because of Filling In the Blanks in New Canaan.
Filling in the Blanks fights childhood hunger by providing needy children with meals on the weekends.
It is a resource for kids that are on the free or reduced lunch program, Shawnee Knight told Daily Voice.
A chef, community activist, board member, wife, and mother, she and Tina Kramer, who has a passion for community service and love of children founded the non-profit several years ago.
"We are putting food directly in the hands of kids in need in Connecticut and Westchester. We are bridging the gap over the weekends for 696 children, as of January first. For many of these children lunch at school on Friday is their last good meal until they return to school on Monday for school provided breakfast," said Knight.
To date, the women are working with 11 public schools and one charter school in Stamford and Bedford, N.Y.
"With the obstacle of food insecurity removed, children are able to experience increased academic achievement in school and increase opportunities for success in their lives," she said.
The program is also available during the summer at several camps throughout Stamford.
"Children are at a higher risk of food insecurity during the summer because school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to them," Knight explained.
In addition, backpacks are given for the holidays. This week, kids are getting theirs which contain pancake mix and syrup, a few toys, scarf, a new book and various other donated items.
Providing food for needy children is only half of their organization's mission, Knight continued.
She said the unspoken message is to encourage young people in area communities to fight childhood hunger.
"Through our volunteer opportunities, awareness is raised that spans many generations."
"We realized the need of children in our backyard and wanted to help and at the same time start something that was a concept our children could grasp. Food is connected to so many aspects of everyone’s lives it seemed like a basic concept everyone could understand. Childhood hunger is such a large problem and yet here is a simple solution everyone can participate in."
Filling In the Gap is working to get businesses involved in bringing attention to kids in need in Stamford and the surrounding communities.
"Hunger is something that affects us all whether directly or indirectly. Hunger is an issue that is intertwined with so many other problems. These children were being set on a path of failure, not having basic nutritional needs met threatens their future in profound ways. Hunger takes a toll on their health and development, which leads to lower academic achievement and perpetuating the cycle of poverty," Knight said.
Filling In the Blanks has a goal of reaching all of the elementary schools in Stamford in the next three years.
Call Madonia restaurant for more information on the food drive at 203-322-8870.