Tiger Packs is an initiative to combat hunger in the Grinnell-Newburg School District. Eligible K-8 students receive a weekly bag of kid-friendly, nutritious food to take home on the weekends while the high school students have access to a food pantry with a variety of healthy snacks and takeaway meals.
Tiger Packs was established in 2013 as a pilot program at Bailey Park Elementary with just 12 students, and the program has expanded to serve 196 students from five area schools. Our numbers continue to grow as registration forms are now included with school enrollment materials. Any student who receives free or reduced lunch is automatically eligible, but students who have been identified as food insecure by school personnel may also participate. There is a clear indication of community need for this program as the percentage of students in the Grinnell – Newburg school district receiving free and reduced lunch has increased from 30.6% during the 2007-08 school year to 35.5% in the current academic year.
Tiger Packs touches a variety of community issues, particularly the link between nutrition, education, and poverty. Children who do not get enough healthy food to eat have greater difficulty concentrating in school, which leads to decreased performance. Tiger Packs is an important program because it not only combats a direct need with a short-term solution (feeding hungry children), but also works to address a fundamental cause of poverty: children who are not focused on their hunger will be better able to concentrate on their learning, and will be more likely to perform well in school, continue their education, and break the cycle of poverty.