In May I concluded a 32 week period of continuous delivery for the Weekend Family Food project. When the project began this year it was serving around 400 students, and by its conclusion 550 students.
A difficulty I have dealt with all year is answering the question “How do you measure outcomes?” This project is not the research of an anthropology professor, nor that of a private organization with dozens of scientists and unlimited funding; it is a project created to alleviate hunger in children ages birth through five, and yet the nay saying and criticisms are relentless.
So how do I answer the question? I can’t simply visit all 550 families to check in on them, no, but I can spot check families, interview them one on one, and get their input on how Weekend Family Food affects them. I can’t keep cranial measurements and weight charts on all 550 kids, no, but I can ask the schools how the kids are doing in class, and if they are still complaining about being hungry. So how do I answer? What you are about to read below is a letter written to me from a director of one of my schools and it is my answer:
“In Fall of 2011 year, we began participating in the Weekend Food Bag program through Coalition for Compassion & Justice (CCJ).
We have a student enrolled in our Home Based program option who was underweight at the 3rd percentile according to our nutrition assessment in early September.
The student is the youngest of five children, whose family income falls below 50% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
After three months of receiving Weekend Food Bags, she gained weight and was assessed at a normal weight for her height, placing her at the 27th percentile. In March, she gained additional weight and is doing well at the 74th percentile for height/weight. I truly believe that the Weekend Food Bag program contributed to the child’s improvement of physical well-being.
It was a pleasure for us to help deliver the food bags to the family for the child because it gave us satisfaction knowing that there was a nutritious meal available for the student over the weekend. All of our families have enjoyed participating in the food program and have expressed gratitude for the program. One parent has said that over the course of one month, the Weekend Food Bag contents are about the equivalent of one food box, which greatly helps their family provide meals in the home.
Thank you Coalition for Compassion and Justice for your help & generosity,
--- From a small preschool serving 3, 4, and 5 year olds in a center based and home based program option”
An outcome clear and simple; The Weekend Family Food Project is changing the lives of kids throughout Yavapai County, making them healthier and ready to learn. Thankfully the project has received another year of funding, and this outcome will continue for another 32 weeks starting this September.
AmeriCorps VISTA Member