We first learned about Snack Pak 4 Kids and Snack Shak in 2012. One of our team members, Tom, went down to Amarillo, Texas, to check out a different philanthropic prospect. He was introduced to Dyron Howell and Snack Pak 4 Kids by chance, and was instantly impressed.
SP4K’s emphasis on making sure kids have the nourishment they need to become good learners, maintaining dignity and respect for every child, and keeping what’s best for kids at the forefront of every decision made as an organization won Tom over. These inspirational core values, along with the fact that there are food insecure children in every city in America, motivated Tom to come back to Spokane and start something like SP4K here in Washington.
Back in Spokane, Tom discovered there was already the foundation for a fledgling weekend feeding program. Over the course of a few important meetings, with buy-in from the local hunger relief distribution center, Spokane’s very own weekend hunger relief program for children was formalized: Bite2Go.
Bite2Go utilizes a powerful model in which a business or church “adopts” a school and funds the school’s Bite2Go program. We have discovered this model fosters a sense of ownership in the program and allows funders to see the direct impact their dollars are making.
It also allows for a deeper engagement with the funding organization in the forms of mentoring, reading, or helping with other needs of students in their school. The core values of dignity, respect, anonymity, and dedication to keeping what’s best for kids at the forefront of every decision come from our inspiration in Amarillo.
Our Bite2Go program quickly became popular, and after three years, we went from feeding 250 elementary age students to 3,000 in Spokane County. With word spreading rapidly and popularity of the program gaining momentum, we were often asked, “What about our hungry middle and high school students?”
We heard the Snack Pak team in Amarillo had a relatively new program, Snack Shak, and we knew our newest inspiration would need to come from Texas again! This time, we took a team of four to Amarillo, where we were able to see first-hand the amazing work done by Snack Shak. We heard from principals; we heard from teachers; we heard from volunteers; but most importantly, we heard from students who were deeply impacted by the difference Snack Shak made in their lives.
“Student-led” and “student-run” quickly became a model we wanted to emulate. We loved the fact that dignity and respect were again at the forefront of the program, with brand-name and brand-new food items chosen from a menu. We also loved the fact that dignity was preserved through the delivery of students’ custom food bags to a trusted teacher.
We were inspired once again by what was happening in Amarillo and brought the experience home to start our own middle and high school program: Bite2GoXL. We’re now one year into the launch of the program.
As I’m writing this, nearly 300 middle school and high school students have received a custom-made bag of brand-name and brand-new food picked by them. Like Snack Shak, our programs are student-led and student-run, and we already see the effect that model has on fostering a more empathetic and philanthropic school culture.
When we first started, Bite2Go faced speculation and hesitation from school leadership, teachers, and counselors. Today, school administrators call us to ask how they can start a Bite2GoXL program at their school.
Feedback tells us the reason for this shift is the fact that student dignity and respect are at the forefront of everything we do, in conjunction with buy-in and long-term commitments from those who are supporting the program financially.
Thanks in large part to the invaluable inspiration and ideas from SP4K and Snack Shak, we are tremendously proud of our Bite2Go and Bite2GoXL programs. We continue to make SP4K’s values our own and give the very best to our kids, too.
At The Core
The Bite2Go and Bite2Go XL program currently serves nearly 4,000 children in Spokane, Washington and another 1,000 in surrounding communities. The Bite2Go program in Spokane is made possible by a partnership of two fantastic non-profit organizations: Second Harvest and At The Core. The program is led by a team of dedicated volunteers and staff.
Help support Snack Pak 4 Kids in the fight against child weekend hunger. Volunteer with SP4K!