Food4Thought Volunteer Project

Did you know? In wealthy Fairfax County, more than 30 percent of Fairfax County Public School children qualify for free or reduced-price meals — about one quarter of the school population.

Our Food4Thought Program partners with social workers and parent volunteers at select Fairfax County public schools. We enable them to send home food for the weekend in the backpacks of students who receive food assistance at school during the week and who may potentially go without food over the weekend.

This project requires that you, your family, or the organization you represent provide the food that goes into the packs. Britepaths and the schools that need assistance are not able to provide the food for your group to put in the packs. If your organization does not have the funds to purchase these items, a great solution is to ask volunteers who are participating to donate the food items, and plan for the number of packs you can create based on the number of donations you receive from group members. This way, everyone can truly share in the effort to help others, and no one is asked to spend too much money.

Community members can help us assist children in our partner schools in two ways:
  1. Donate Funds/Food: Click Here to Support our Food4Thought Partner Schools by donating funds that we will pass on to them.

  2. Create and Donate Packs: Purchase or collect the necessary food and assemble Food4Thought packs for students. If your organization is interested in donating food and assembling Food4Thought packs, here is some helpful information to consider before you get started:

Creating Food4Thought Packs

Get Started:
  1. Contact the School you would like to donate food packs to and see what their current needs are: CLICK HERE for a list of our Partner Schools and Contact Information. 
  2. Volunteer and Donation Report: Please fill out this form (MS WORD) (PDF) and send to Christina Garris at cgarris@britepaths.org so Britepaths can obtain volunteer hours and donation value. Britepaths will provide a thank you to use for tax purposes.
  3. Volunteer Project Details and Suggestions: Click Here for a PDF that offers details and suggestions for organizing your volunteer project.
  4. Questions? If you have questions, contact Sidney Arrington at volunteer@britepaths.org or 703.273.8829.
Overview
  • Each pack contains ten items: two each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a drink and a snack for Saturday and Sunday.
  • All items that are donated or purchased for this project should be non-perishable, individual-sized food items that have not passed their expiration dates. Consider that some of the kids who will receive this food may be on their own during the weekend while their parents work, so it is important to give them pop-top, ready-to-heat-and-eat containers. They also need to be able to carry it home in their backpacks, so it is best to avoid cans or oversized packages.
  • The most expensive items, and the most rarely donated, are the most vital ones: shelf-stable milk, individual Chef Boyardee-type meals with meat and/or cheese, and tuna/chicken & cracker snack packs. These items ensure that the kids get some protein each day, so please plan to include them. These meals truly may be the only food the kids have that weekend!
  • You will also need zip-top plastic bags for the food to be packed in. Gallon-size bags are serviceable, but we recommend the two-gallon/XL size ones for ease of packing and sealing.
What Goes In a Food4Thought Pack?

Here are some suggested items to go in the packs you assemble:

  • Chef Boyardee, Campbell or Hormel individual-sized heat-and-eat meals with meat or cheese (eg. SpaghettiOs with meatballs)
  • Individual, microwaveable mac & cheese packs
  • Tuna or chicken and cracker snack packs (eg. Bumble Bee or Starkist); consider that the larger meal packs can be too large for the packs.
  • Soup cups (eg. Campbells 7 oz. chicken noodle or other soups with meat/veggies)
  • Shelf-stable individual milk packs (eg. Horizon or Hershey’s—Please, no Yoo-Hoo)
  • Juice boxes (100% juice)
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Individual-sized cereal packs
  • Individual fruit cups or applesauce cups (like those from Dole, Motts, Del Monte, Musselman’s)
  • Small snack items, such as cracker packs or granola bars