Nestled in the heart of Baton Rouge is Three O’clock Project, an organization dedicated to serving youth in the community with fresh, healthy food. In the United States, 1-in-6 children (approximately 13 million) regularly face hunger-related hardships of going without meals or lack access to quality nutrition. Factors such as Covid-19 and Hurricane Ida have exacerbated the food stress across the Baton Rouge community.
That is why the mission of Three O’clock Project is so important as it aims to provide students in need with access to healthy meals after school and during the summer months when school is out of session. This mission of empowering kids with healthy food resonates strongly with the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation. To help the organization reach even more children with programming, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation has awarded Three O’clock Project with a $5,000 Neighborhood Grant in both 2020 and 2021.
The Three O’clock Project works with Title-I schools where 50% or more of the students are eligible for free or reduced priced meals. Once that school bell rings at the end of the day, many of these kids do not have reliable access to meals or snacks. Recognizing that these communities need extra support, Three O’clock Project collaborates with 30 different afterschool programs that provide children with the healthy food they need and deserve, and when school is not in session, the organizations supports summer programs to continue addressing food insecurity all summer long.
Three O’clock Project has also made it their mission to help in times of crisis. At the end of August 2021, Hurricane Ida swept over Louisiana and Baton Rouge, leaving many community members worrying about their safety, homes and power outages while also worrying about where and how they would get their next meal. In the wake of food shortages, grocery stores shelves were empty, and access to fresh produce was at an all-time low.
Once again, Three O’clock Project was ready to serve. Also prepared to answer the community’s call was Sprouts Farmers Market, Store #691, which donated 15 pallets of fresh fruit, vegetables, nonperishable products, and child-friendly snacks to support the local organization. Three O’clock Project and Sprouts’ store team members packed 2,000 kid-friendly bags that contained healthy fresh food, nonperishables, and other items like games, art supplies, and toys, helping to support children and their families in this crucial time of need.
Seeing how the crisis relief program lifted up the Baton Rouge community, the Three O’clock Project is continuing its bag distribution through the holiday season. With collaboration from partners like Sprouts, they created 2,000 healthy food bags for Halloween, another 2,000 for Thanksgiving, and they expect to make another 2,000 food bags for Christmas.
At the end of the day, when that school bell rings, and in times of great need, the Three O’clock Project will be there to feed and support their community. With this positive force of good, they have continued to create relationships within the neighborhoods they serve while forming new partnerships. This commitment to collaboration and community service is paving the way for even more children to achieve food security.