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F.I.S.H. Backpack Program provides eligible students with free nutritious foods

By Staff | Jul 16, 2018

Good nutrition is important for establishing a foundation for a child’s physical and mental health and academic achievement. Food insecurity is an obstacle that can threaten that critical foundation.

F.I.S.H. of Sanibel-Captiva’s Backpack Program assists youth with food insecurity and its negative effects by providing extra food for children. While other backpack programs are only offered during the school year, F.I.S.H. offers its year-round.

“We want to make certain students have the tools they need, including nutritious food, to succeed,” Program Director Kathy Y. Monroe said.

The program provides children with supplemental food, so they can continue to eat healthy meals when school provided meals are not available on weekends, holidays and during summer months. Each week, participating youth are given non-perishable nutritious foods that are kid-friendly and easy to prepare.

The program is offered to children in kindergarten though eighth grade at The Sanibel School, grades 9-12 at area high schools and pre-K at the Children’s Education Center of the Islands, Sanibel Christian Preschool and Summit Christian Preschool.

In partnership with Blessings in a Backpack and partially sponsored by the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club and private donors, is offered at no cost to the participant.

Eligible households live or work on Sanibel or Captiva, regardless of where the child attends school. Those enrolled in the Free/Reduced Lunch Program are automatically eligible; students not enrolled in Free/Reduced Lunch and those in pre-K must qualify by completing an intake application for F.I.S.H.

“We constantly evaluate our Backpack Program food choices and make changes and adjustments as necessary. All backpacks contain proteins, fruits and vegetables, snacks and drinks and are, occasionally, enhanced with a sweet treat,” Monroe said. “We try to include as many organic healthy options as possible, however, we cannot accommodate food allergies or dietary choices.”

The food backpacks are assembled by volunteers and available for pick-up at the F.I.S.H. Walk-In Center at any time during the week. Parents may opt in and out of the program as their need dictates.

Discreet feedback, evaluations and testimonials are requested from program participants.

For more information, contact Kathy Y. Monroe at 239-472-4775.

The F.I.S.H. Walk-In Center is at 2430 Periwinkle Way, Suite B, Sanibel.