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FORKids Program Provides Meals for Children in Thurston County

In the summer of 2007, The Olympian ran an article which reported that (at that time) 671 children were homeless in Thurston County. Partly in response to that article, Robert Coit, the director of the Thurston County Food Bank, created a program called “FORKids”. Modeled after similar Backpack programs, volunteers assemble packets that include non perishable, single serving, easy to prepare food. FORKids tries to provide nutrition based meals for two days to cover each child’s weekend. Counselors at the participating schools contact the FORKids program with numbers for the week. The assembled supplies are put into plastic bags, stored at the Food Bank and delivered to the participating schools. The counselors then discretely put the food packets into the student’s backpack.

A pilot program was held, for the first year, with the North Thurston, Olympia and Tumwater school districts. The focus were preschool and elementary students up to 6th grade. The non-profit Homeless Backpacks, Inc. services middle and high schools.

After the first years’ pilot, our own Griffin School District was added, with Hawks Prairie Head Start, West Olympia Head Start, Marshall Middle School and Komachin Middle School.

As of this month (March 2013), ForKids is serving 1700 students a week in Thurston County. At the Griffin School, the program consistently serves around 37 students.

How can you support the FORKids program? There are a few ways. You can donate certain kinds of food which are nutritious and yet appealing for kids and which are easy for kids to open and prepare. Contributions of cash are always welcome. And you can volunteer to help assemble food packets.
Here’s a list of sought-after foods which need to be single serving and easy to open and prepare by little hands:

Oatmeal Packets
Cup of Soup
Fruit Cups
Small boxes-raisins, cranberries,
Dried fruit, real fruit leather
Beanies & Weenies
Jerky products
Pepperoni and Cheese Sticks
Pudding cups
Shelf Safe Milk
Cold Cereal boxes
Easy Mac packets
Tuna and Crackers
Cheese & crackers
Ravioli cups
Spaghetti Oh cups
Juice Boxes (real fruit)
Granola Bars (peanut free)
Granola Bars
Peanut Butter cups
Small packages of nuts

The Food Bank reports that, “We have an especially difficult time finding protein items since they tend to be the most costly.”

Food donations should be delivered to the Thurston County Food Bank (220 Thurston Ave. NE, Olympia), Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 3:30pm. You can tell them your donation is for the “FORKids program.”

Cash contributions can also be made directly to the Thurston County Food Bank, but marked “FORKids Program”. Checks or cash can be hand-delivered, and checks can be mailed directly to:

Thurston County Food Bank
220 Thurston Ave. NE
Olympia, WA 98501

If you would like to volunteer to help assemble food packages, contact Steamboat resident Cheryl Faulkenburg at

Want to learn more about the Thurston County Food Bank’s FORKids program? Click here for their web page, which includes an annual report.

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One Comment

  1. Interested in getting your feet wet, in the FORKids program? The next “Packaging Night” is March 26 from 3:30 – 5:30 at the Olympia Food Bank. Volunteers will be assembling the food packets for distribution. All are invited to come and lend a hand.

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