200 homeless students in the Sunnyside District will be given food supplies for the weekend, thanks to the generous support of an Arizona Department of Education grant funded by the Qwest Foundation.

The Snack Pack Program provides backpacks filled with nonperishable food for the weekend for 12 weeks, so students can return to class ready to learn each Monday morning. The Snack Pack Program is funded by a $15,000 donation from the Qwest Foundation.

“The first meal of the day is often taken for granted. Too often, the only meal students receive during the day is from the free and reduced lunch program," said Jim Campbell, Qwest Arizona president. “Children should come to school, Monday morning, ready to learn and focused on school—not on hunger.”

Andrea Foster, liaison for homeless students in the Sunnyside District, acknowledges the importance of this program: “We’re incredibly grateful to Qwest because so many students rely on the food to sustain them through the weekend. Of the district’s approximately 1,200 homeless students—many of whom live with their families in shelters, hotels or group homes—a large portion are identified as unaccompanied youth—high school students who are not in the custody of a parent or legal guardian and who are supporting themselves.”

The $15,000 grant will fund 2,400 Snack Packs—200 a week for 12 weeks. In order to stretch the program through the end of the school year, snack packs will be distributed every other Friday, through May 2011.