It’s agonizing to hear stories of children who don’t have adequate food at home, fending for themselves and for their siblings.
These stories helped set the stage for the creation of Family Mentor Foundation.
Today, Family Mentor Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity established to connect community resources and children who need them most. We seek to help meet the unmet needs of children in our community through a variety of programs and resources that will help them to reach their full potential.
Family Mentor Foundation began in 2013 with a mission to create services and partnerships that help fill in the areas lacking in a child’s life. In the fall, neighbors in Worthington gathered together to create 250 brown bag lunches. These lunches were donated to local homeless shelters. This gathering was the beginning of our Gather & Give program.
2014-2015 School Year
One of our earliest visions was to provide food to children who normally qualify for free, or reduced fee, school lunch. As we began researching schools to partner with, we found a need for this right here in our own community.
We were excited to work with Columbus and Worthington schools during the 2014–2015 school year and brought our vision to a reality by creating a program known as Buddy Bags. A Buddy Bag was a returnable backpack filled with child-friendly, nutritious food. Buddy Bags were given to kids in need during holiday breaks from school.
During the 2014–2015 school year, 150 students were served four times each. A total of 600 large backpacks were delivered for the school year. The nutritious food in our Buddy Bags was collected through community food drives and in-kind donations donations. All of the food was organized and filled at our Gather & Give events.
2015-2016 School YeaR
We saw measurable success with the Buddy Bag pilot program and expanded the program for the 2015–2016 school year by providing nutritious meals each Friday to at-risk children. Family Mentor Foundation provided 250 students with food each weekend during the school year for a total of 8,250 bags of food.
2016-2017 SCHOOL YEAR
We raised the bar and set new goals for the 2016-2017 school year. We served 350 students in eight schools totaling 1,400 Buddy Bags a month. Each Buddy Bag cost Family Mentor Foundation $5.00 to assemble; each weekly bag contained 2 individual microwavable meals, 1 individual shelf stable milk or pudding, 2 individual fruit cups, 1 individual vegetable cup, 2 granola bars and 2 oatmeal packets. And a jar of peanut butter once a month. To feed 350 children every weekend during the school year, the food cost was $52,500.
2017-2018 SCHOOL YEAR
We saw modest growth in the number of kids we fed over the 2017-2018 school year, but importantly, we made strides in streamlining our processes for acquiring food and packing buddy boxes. This work set us up to be more efficient, enabling us to further our mission in future years. We continued to expand our Gather & Give events and sought additional corporate partnerships to fuel our growth.
2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR
The 2018-2019 school year saw the most significant growth in Family Mentor Foundation’s history. We doubled the number of buildings we serve to 18 and more than doubled the number of children receiving buddy boxes each week from 380 to 900. A lot of hard work was completed by staff and volunteers in order to meet the needs required by such growth and we continue to work toward scaling our programs to meet the needs of additional children in our community.