KDS DAR School has made changes to its Blessing Bag Food Assistance Program to better address the needs of students and their families.
The program previously sent weekly food packs home with children who qualify for assistance, but supply chain issues and the rising costs of food have made it difficult to consistently provide nutritious options. There were also issues with distribution of the food packs, with numerous students failing to pick up the blessing each week.
After meeting with the principals and school counselors, a number of changes were made. The school will now provide monthly food vouchers directly to families with children who attend the school who demonstrate a financial need. The voucher is mailed to qualified families around the first week of each month during the school year. It must be used in the month in which it was issued, it can only be redeemed at Dennis Foodland in Grant, Alabama, and it can only be used for food items.
These changes are beneficial for several reasons. First, it empowers families to purchase items they like and will eat as opposed to be given a generic bag with items that may or may not be eaten. Second, this new version of the program eliminates the stigma associated with receiving assistance since the vouchers are sent directly to the home instead of students being called to receive their food pack each week. It also allows older children in the household to benefit from the program. Previously only the lower grades were invited to participate. Another benefit is that since the vouchers are mailed, it is known whether or not it makes it to the home. Children have been “sharing” their blessings with others on the bus, meaning a good deal of the food never made it home.
Blessing Bags will continue to bless Gunter Mountain families by providing direct assistance to those with a significant financial need.