For Princeton families who rely on children receiving free or reduced breakfast and lunch at school, weekends are a struggle.

The Princeton Human Services Commission and Mercer Street Friends joined forces with the Princeton Public Schools and Princeton University to raise awareness of this situation and provide students with nutritious snacks.

Kristin S. Appelget, director of Princeton University’s Office of Community and Regional Affairs, announced in May that the university will donate $10,000 toward the cost of the new program to help hungry and “food insecure” students in Princeton’s four public elementary schools.

The Send Hunger Packing drive needs to raise $62,000 to cover the cost of sending home food packs with elementary school children, who qualify for free or reduced-cost lunches, on Friday afternoons.

Food insecurity, meaning there is no guarantee the next meal will be provided for or a nutritious snack available, can be an issue for as many as 12 percent of all children in the Princeton Public Schools.

The goal of $62,000 would fund the cost of the Friday food packs for two school years.

“This is an important project that addresses a very basic need in the lives of many of our students,” Judy Wilson, superintendent of Princeton Public Schools, said in a statement. “How can we seriously expect the best for children and student achievement if they are hungry?”

The program is set to begin by providing as many as 215 children at Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook and Riverside schools in kindergarten to fifth grade with a weekend supply of nutritious snacks and drinks.

Wilson praised Ross Wishnick and Leticia Fraga Nadler from the Princeton Human Services Commission and Phyllis C. Stoolmacher from Mercer Street Friends for spearheading the fundraising drive.

In addition to providing financial resources Princeton University hopes to support the program in other ways.

“There are great opportunities for our students to take a volunteer role. It’s not just the initial financial resource, which of course is important, but there are other ways we will partner with this program, through the student volunteer corps, through the faculty and staff,”Appelget said in a statement.

To raise money, the Princeton Human Services Commission and Mercer Street Friends are set to screen the film A Place at the Table, starring Jeff Bridges and Tom Colicchio, at the Garden Theatre on 4 p.m. on June 9.

Tickets start at $50.

“So far we have raised $19,000 from the three avenues we have, from institutions, from individuals and through our web site which is selling tickets to the June 9th event,” Ross Wishnick of the Princeton Human Services Commission said in a statement.

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