FIT - Food In Tummies
In 2009, The Junior League of Austin (JLA) created the FIT program (which stands for Food In Tummies – feeding minds…growing bodies). Managed by the JLA in collaboration with the Del Valle Independent School District (DVISD), FIT is a unique program designed to provide weekend nourishment to children grades K-5 who qualify for the National School Lunch program (NSLP), which offers free and reduced meals to school children.
Now in its sixth year, the FIT program will continue to provide backpacks of nutritious food to all students at two Title 1 schools in Del Valle. Even though most schools within the Austin Independent School District report one in two students are eligible for the NSLP, Baty and Hillcrest, both in DVISD, currently report that over 96 percent of enrolled students are considered economically disadvantaged and are currently enrolled in the NSLP. Children who depend on meals at school may not have regular meals in the evenings or on weekends. That is where the FIT program steps in.
During the 2014-2015 school year, the FIT program will provide approximately 1,600 backpacks each week for 34 weeks to the entire student populations at both Baty Elementary and Hillcrest Elementary. The JLA provides more than 250 volunteers to pack the backpacks, deliver them to the school each Friday, collect the empty bags, and then re-pack them with food for the following week. The packs also include bilingual healthy recipe cards and nutrition tips each week to be shared with the student’s family.
FIT Mission: To educate children, parents and the community in order to promote nutritional health and maximize student potential.
FIT Vision: To eliminate weekend hunger in our community and ensure children and families have knowledge to make informed nutritional choices.
Children are Hungry- According to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, Texas ranks among the worst states in the nation for hunger, child hunger, and obesity. One in every four children in Texas experiences food insecurity. Multiple studies and extensive research show that children who are hungry do not excel in school. The NSLP addresses the issue of hunger during the week, but not on the weekend. In most cases, it takes a child who has gone hungry through the weekend until Wednesday to recover only to start the cycle again each Friday. Children who go hungry over the weekend have higher rates of absenteeism, difficulty with concentration and classroom behavior.
By feeding an entire student population currently experiencing food insecurity, we expect to see improved attendance school (especially on Mondays and Fridays), improved BMIs, and decreased mobility of families whose children take part in the NSLP. Children in our community are hungry; help us feed them.
FIT Program Quotes and Highlights
Thank you for dedicating your time to prepare the individual bags. You truly provided a great service to our school.
—3rd Grade Teacher, Hillcrest Elementary
I think having extra food over a weekend can be a lifesaver.
—1st Grade Teacher, Hillcrest Elementary
Thank you for this program. You are servicing a need that would otherwise go unnoticed.
—Pre-K Teacher, Baty Elementary
I love knowing the students have something healthy to eat.
—4th Grade Teacher, Baty Elementary
Thanks for all the money you spent on our school. I’m sure everybody loved them because I did. I loved the popcorn chips—it was my emergency snack.
—3rd Grade Student, Hillcrest Elementary
Thank you for the food you donated to us; and thank you for filling our empty tummies.
—3rd Grade Student, Hillcrest Elementary
I like receiving the FIT bag because when my mom is working and I’m hungry, I can get good food to eat.
—4th Grade Student, Baty Elementary
FIT in the News
Tribeza Magazine December 3, 2012: http://www.tribeza.com/magazine_content/things-we-love-9
Austin FIT Magazine December 2012: http://www.austinfitmagazine.com/article/charity-briefs-giving
West Austin News August 27, 2009: West Austin News FIT article
News 8 Austin August 22, 2009 : http://austin.ynn.com/content/250438/food-in-tummies-program-fights-hunger-in-austin-area