In 2017, Jennifer Dassau founded Feeding Tiny Tummies in Marlow, New Hampshire, as a way to bring nutrition and a sense of stability into the lives of young children. Something that began with Dassau simply buying snacks for kids during lunch quickly turned into a licensed nonprofit that now feeds nearly 600 families per week. Today, Feeding Tiny Tummies is tackling food insecurity among children across the southwest region of New Hampshire, and Mascoma Bank is a proud supporter of their work.
According to Dassau, teachers say that a lot of their students rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition. More specifically, 80 percent of those teachers report that some children come to school hungry one or more times each week. During the school year, hunger in the classroom can be a factor in issues like the inability to concentrate, poor academic performance, and behavioral problems, as well as leading to more significant health issues. Digging deeper, the team at Feeding Tiny Tummies knows the most common reasons children are not eating breakfast include poverty, loss of employment within the family, and lack of parental guidance. With the help of local volunteers, meals are packaged and personally delivered all over Cheshire and Sullivan counties. “No child is being left behind,” says Dassau. This program is providing the fuel local kids need for success in and out of the classroom.
Yet the issue of food insecurity does not stop when the school year ends, so Feeding Tiny Tummies has also initiated a summer program due to the recognized 25 percent uptick in need during the summer months. This is a large program that supports children in getting access not only to food and fresh produce but also educational materials such as books and school supplies. Mascoma Bank’s contributions last summer paid for the entire program. Dassau says, “If we didn’t have the funding from Mascoma, we would be done for.”
Through it all, Feeding Tiny Tummies relies on volunteers who help 2 to 4 hours a week filling lunch bags that are delivered to schools or families. If you are interested in helping as a volunteer or contributing in some other way, your neighbors will truly benefit from any support you can offer.