Our humble beginnings came about as the result of a meeting sponsored by Princeton Human Services with unintended and unexpected positive consequences. A meeting to discuss food pantry locations resulted in a robust delivery program of weekend supplementary meals for school children whose families opt in. The first meeting was held in the Winter of 2012. Two short years later 40,000 supplementary meals have been delivered.
The mission of SHUPPrinceton is to provide child-friendly supplemental weekend food through community organization and community financial support.
Almost 420 kids in Princeton Public Schools, equating to 2 kids in each classroom are eligible for free and reduced price lunches from the Federal government. While this may provide food for them during the week, there is no support available on the weekends and holidays.
Eligibility for the "free and reduced" program doesn't guarantee one is food insecure, but it is a major indicator. Additionally, there are kids who may not qualify for this program who may still from time to time be food insecure.
We know that poor nutrition and learning are at odds. When children arrive to school on Monday morning, they have a right to be properly fed and ready to learn, and Send Hunger Packing Princeton was formed to make that possible.
Send Hunger Packing Princeton is a partnership between Mercer Street Friends and Princeton Public Schools. It is a free program, available to anyone, without pre qualifications, who opts in. If a family feels it could benefit from supplemental weekend meal assistance for their school aged children, they get it.
Send Hunger Packing Princeton is a collaborative effort of the Princeton Human Services Commission, Mercer Street Friends (a non profit) and the Princeton School District. In September 2013, the Princeton Public Schools began to distribute weekend food backpacks, provided by Mercer Street Friends, to children in the Princeton schools (K-5, so far) and at the Princeton Nursery School. To date, SHUPP has distributed over 40,000 meals in this way.