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Making Nutritious Meals: Food 4 Kids Program

Several studies show that nutrition can directly affect the mental capacity of school-aged children. For example, iron deficiency, even in early stages, can negatively impact cognition. Good Nutrition helps students show up at school prepared to learn–and learning is the foundation of how children can grow into healthy and productive adults. Because improvements in nutrition help to make students healthier, they are more likely to have fewer absences and attend class more frequently. When children are not given nutritious meals, studies show that malnutrition leads to behavior problems in the classroom.

Hunger is not just something we must look at as a social issue. It is an economic one. If we know that children can do better in school when fed nutritious food, perhaps we can see the benefit of these same children growing up to lift themselves up and out of poverty to financial independence. Food is more than just hunger, it is a vehicle to elevate entire communities.

Turning A Bag of Food Into A Meal

Contents of one Food 4 Kids Bag

Kelly Alarcon, a Cal State Long Beach Nutrition student who interns at Food Finders loves to talk about the importance of having nutritious meals. She helps the Partner Agency Coordinators to receive food from our Food donors and also helps with pack and sorts for the Food 4 Kids program. The above photo was taken from one bag that was being packed up so that it could be delivered to one of the 15 Title 1 Schools in Long Beach.

Kelly asked if she could take a picture and use her nutrition skills to craft some recipes that could help families extend the meals while also providing a nutritious option. Her studies paid off!

Here is the first bag of recipes we would like to share:

Contents and Nutrition

Tuna 5.4 oz. = 2 packs 140 calories, 17g protein, 0.5g fat, 0 carbs
Instant oatmeal = 2 packs 320 calories; 8 g protein, 4g fat, 66g carbs
Kool Aid Juice Jammer = 1 90 calories, 0 protein, 0 fat, 24 carbs
Canned corn, whole kernel = 2 120 calories; 2g protein, 2g fat, 26g carbs
Black beans = 2 cans 350 calories; 24.5 g protein, 0 fat, 63 carbs
Granola bar = 1 140 Calories; 3g protein, 4 g fat, 25 carbs
Vegetable soup = 1 can 130 calories; 4g protein, 2.5 g fat, 22g carbs
Diced tomatoes = 1 can 88 calories; 3.5 g protein, 0g fat, 17.5 g of carbs
Canned fruit = 2 cans 230 calories; 0g protein, 0g fat, 59g
Boxed mac n cheese = 1 box 875 Calories; 32.5g Fat, 25g protein, 118g carbs

Weekend Meals Recipes

Meal #1: Cheesy Tuna Casserole

Serves 2-3 people

Ingredients To Use:
1- Box mac n cheese
1 – Pack of tuna drained
1 – Can of corn drained

Directions:

  1. Prepare boxed mac n cheese as directed, setting aside ¼ of the noodles for another recipe, and feel free to use any milk, nut milk or water.
  2. Mix all ingredients and serve.

Meal #2: Black Bean, Tomato and Corn Salad

Serves 2-3

Ingredients To Use:
1 – Cans of black beans drained
1 – Can of diced tomatoes drained
1 – Can of corn drained

Directions:

  1. Take all rinsed ingredients and toss in a bowl.
  2. Season as desired
  3. Serve hot or cold

Meal #3: Tuna and Noodle Soup with a Side of Fruit

Serves 1-3

Ingredients to Use:
1 – Cans of vegetable soup
½ Cup of water
1 – Pack of Tuna Drained
1-Can of fruit
Remainder of noodles from boxed Mac n Cheese

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a pot on the stove mixing and heating
  2. Enjoy with side of fruit from the can

Meal # 4: Oatmeal with Fruit

Serves 2-3

Ingredients to Use:

2- Packs of Instant Oatmeal

1-can of fruit drained

Directions:

  1. Prepare instant oatmeal according to package directions
  2. Cut fruit into bite size pieces and top oatmeal with it or eat as a side.

Snack

Juice

Granola Bar

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We look forward to more recipes from Kelly. If you do make any of these, please share your photos of the preparation and completed meal! Email us at mbereket@foodfinders.org

Helping Food 4 Kids

Prior to COVID, the Food 4 Kids Program was delivering 385 bags of food every week to 15 Title 1 Long Beach Elementary Schools. In many cases, these bags of food provided families with their only weekend food option. Support from donors helped us to serve over 10,780 meals per week to families.

Long Beach Unified School District reached out to Food Finders in January with a request to restart the program and add 12 High School Student Wellness Centers to the original Title 1 Schools. Supporting this program would mean that together we can serve 21,560 meals per week by delivering over 770 bags of food to families in Long Beach. It is a good start to elevating so many families!

To Help Support the Food 4 Kids Program click here

If you would like to make an impact on reducing food waste and hunger help us grow our food rescue operations: Donate

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