For many families experiencing homelessness, problems accessing healthy food only get worse on the weekends when children aren’t receiving meals at school or day care. Going without regular, healthy meals on the weekends can negatively impact childhood development and learning. Kids suffering from hunger often have a hard time concentrating at school.
At Jardin de los Niños, a nonprofit child care center that serves children and families who are homeless and near-homeless in Las Cruces, New Mexico, teachers noticed that children were lethargic when they came back to the classroom on Mondays. Kids were overeating at school on Mondays, trying to make up for the lack of food over the weekend, explained Michelle Adames, executive director of Jardin de los Niños.
That’s when Jardin de los Niños began the weekend anti-hunger project. The initiative provides consistent, nutritious meals for the weekend when families might not otherwise eat or eat well. This year, Jardin de los Niños’ weekend anti-hunger project received a $25,000 grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) through its Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative. BCBSNM also supported the program in 2018.