Due to the resort nature of Cape Cod, many families are faced with seasonal poverty as jobs related to tourism, and other seasonal work such as landscaping are reduced or non-existent during the winter months. Many of these families with children have annual incomes at or below the poverty level and are often food insecure. To partially meet the needs of these children most schools on the Cape have both free and reduced lunch and breakfast programs. However, on the weekends or during vacations these children often go without adequate food. These “food insecure” children then return to school hungry and as a result have difficulty learning.
Years ago a non-profit organization called “Blessings in a Backpack” (BIB) blessingsinabackpack.org, recognized this problem and began pioneering a program to bring individual, pre-packed bags of food items to participating schools every Friday during the school year. School personnel identified the most needy “food insecure” children. The food bags were placed in their backpacks before each weekend.
In cooperation with BIB, Grace Church, located in East Dennis, MA along with a few private donors, initiated a similar program called Cape Kid Meals (CKM), capekidmeals.org, at two elementary schools during the 2014-2015 school year. The two schools were Ezra Baker Innovation and Wixon Innovation Schools in Dennis, where nearly 60% of the school children participate in the federal government’s free breakfast and lunch programs. At these two schools combined, social workers identified over 100 children who are “food insecure” over the weekend for whom CKM provides food.
For the 2016/17 school year Cape Kid Meals will be expanding from 2 schools to 8 schools, including schools in Dennis/Yarmouth, Barnstable, Brewster, Bourne and Sandwich.