By Stefanie Donahue
In conjunction with Hunger Action Month in September, the Boys & Girls Club of Whatcom County reached a meal program milestone and publicly recognized several community donors responsible for contributing 79,000 meals and snacks to youngsters throughout the county last year.
Nearly one in four kids in the community consume diets that are nutritionally deficient, according to statistics from the Bellingham Food Bank. To combat the issue, the Boys & Girls Club of Whatcom County offers meals to individuals age 6 through 18.
“Many people do not know the feeling of being hungry, but for many of our members that feeling is very real,” said CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Whatcom County Heather Powell in a news release. “With the support of this community, we can be sure children have access to the high quality foods they need and deserve.”
In Blaine, the organization’s clubhouse operates during the summer and from 2 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday throughout the school year. The Blaine Clubhouse serves a young community local to the Blaine school district.
“More than 63 percent of kids at the Blaine Clubhouse eat a meal while attending weekly programs,” Powell said in an email.
“We’ve also seen a 20 percent increase in members consuming three or more servings of vegetables daily, and the favorite meal at the Blaine Clubhouse is sweet potato burritos,” she added.
Familiar local names including Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods, Avenue Bread and Chubby Bunny Farms contribute to the meal program.
Not only does the organization offer meals, but staff also fosters an early interest in eating consciously – sometimes even from the garden. The Healthy Foods Program and Gardening Club keep kids fed and healthy at a young age.
In 2015, the Boys & Girls Club of Whatcom County saw 1,689-member participation in healthy lifestyle programs. The Gardening Club, for example, increased participation by a substantial 72 percent, according to the organization’s website.
In all county locations, about half of members qualify for free or reduced lunches in school.