It’s snack time

By Casey Neill

A Geelong mum is helping to fill kids’ tummies during the school holidays.

Deeann Cropley started Pass the Snacks after helping Eat Up Australia with an event last year.

“Eat Up Australia is an organisation that provides sandwiches for kids during term who’d otherwise go without lunch,” she said.

“After that event I kept thinking about the in-school support and what happens when that finishes up for the term.

“The more I thought about it and the more conversations I had with others – teachers, parents, schools – it became more obvious to me that potentially there is a gap there.

“That leaves a hunger gap for the kids.”

Dee called upon businesses for donations and left collection boxes at workplaces with a list of target items.

“At the top of the list were always going to be things like muesli bars and rice cakes,” she said.

“I was trying to make sure that what I was calling for had some nutritional value as well – things that were going to sustain the kids for longer and not just those empty snacks.”

Dee also connected with the Geelong Food Relief Centre and received bulk donations.

“The businesses collected extraordinary amounts of food,” she said.

“People are still being really generous, they’re doing whatever they can to help.”

The result was 62 boxes, filled to the top

Dee considered how best to provide access to the boxes, taking limited transport access and work demands into account.

“Logistically I thought that for some families it could be tricky to access during the school holidays,” she said.

“That’s why we decided the food boxes would be delivered directly to the school in the week before term finished.”

The schools identified families that needed extra support the most.

“I really didn’t want any restrictions or strict criteria,” she said.

“If the school signed up and identified the need, that’s good enough for me.”

Dee received great feedback from families and schools.

“The schools who have previously attempted to assist during the school holidays themselves felt like it was a lightening of the load in that they could just send home the box.

“Families said their kids’ faces lit up when they opened the box.

“For the rest of this year the aim will be just to continue to supply as many boxes as we can to schools.

“Friends and families and schools have been helping to push it along.

“It’s not just me by any means.”

Heading towards the term two holidays, Dee was hoping to repeat term one’s efforts, if not exceed them.

“Then hopefully just continue that for the next year to get a clear sense of how sustainable this program could be and how to keep it going,” she said.

“In order for this program to be able to continue it will 100 percent rely on the community helping out and doing whatever they can within their means to help.

“It might be donating one box of muesli bars.”

She’s also calling on businesses and community groups to do their own food drive or collection.

People can financially donate as well, or provide gift cards.

“I just so emphatically believe that as a community and through this Pass the Snacks program, we have the capability to help kids access more food more consistently over the school year,” Dee said.

“We just need to keep the momentum going.”