Many ministries understand that children in generational poverty do not have access to food when they are not in school – nights, weekends and school breaks. They will often provide these children with sacks of food to help them have something to eat during these times that parents can’t or aren’t providing food.
The problem is that many of these children do not know how to portion the food out so they are eating healthy amounts of food spaced out appropriately over the amount of time the food is supposed to cover. Some children living in these situations have become accustomed to either eating any or all food when it’s available or not eating it at all, but hiding it for a time when they are especially hungry (which may mean the food has spoiled by the time they try to eat it).
Atlanta Inner City Ministries in Atlanta, GA developed a great tool they include with each sack of food. They created a grid listing the meals and snacks a child should have during a day for each day the food they are given is supposed to cover. Then they insert the specific foods included in the bag in the appropriate slots. They found compliance was extremely high and meant the children were eating the food provided in healthier ways.
I have provided a photo of the document. It also gives you a great idea of how much food and the types they are including in each sack. Remember that food safety is also an issue, so don’t include anything that must be refrigerated. If you include fresh fruit, make sure it is already washed and is on the schedule early enough to remain unspoiled (also make sure knives are not needed to eat it and any parts that should not be eaten are listed.) The list below is obviously for children who are old enough to prepare foods needing preparation.
(Note: Food insecurity in the adults is handled taking various factors into consideration, but free food is available. It is provided directly to children to make sure they are fed, regardless of their circumstances.)
Taking a few extra minutes to provide this resource to those you are feeding can not only help them eat in healthier ways now, but can also develop healthier eating habits for the future. It’s a great way to show the love of God to those with food insecurity.