Self Organizing - Snack Packs

Self Organizing - Snack Packs

Families can prepare healthy “snack packs” for children living in a shelter, eating at soup kitchens or “shopping” at food pantries.


  • To add a bit of unexpected cheer to a child's day
  • To learn about community issues such as hunger and homelessness
  • To develop compassion for the people you are serving

Supporting Organization

  • Food pantries
  • Human services or homeless services
  • Homeless shelter or domestic violence shelter

Plan to make 20 snack packs per volunteer

  • Paper bags or re-sealable plastic bags
  • Healthy snacks – Juice boxes, granola bars, packaged fruit cups or dried fruit, individually packaged pretzels and popcorn, fresh fruit (if permitted).
  • Art supplies – Markers, stickers, crayons, scissors, paper for decorating snack bags or making cards to include inside the snack packs
  • Ties or tape for closing snack packs
  • Optional:
    • Paper for cheerful cards to put into snack packs
    • Pencils, markers and crayons for making cards


  • Contact an organization or agency from the list above and tell them about your project to ensure they can utilize your donation of snack packs. Ask if they have any restrictions on donated snacks such as foods containing peanuts.
  • Start out by reading a book or fact sheet from the "Resources" section (below) and leading a "Preflection" talk with your family. This is a way to introduce the topics of hunger, homelessness and what children can do to help.
  • Consider holding a donation drive in the community for items with which to fill the snack packs. Drives can be held at local supermarkets, churches, schools, etc.  Even holding a block party could be a means of amassing support for your donation drive, collecting snack foods and having a packing party. Get creative!
  • Involve your family in all aspects of the project, from shopping for or collecting healthy snacks to assembling the snack packs and delivering them to the recipient agency or organization.
  • Decorate the bags in which the snacks will be packed, and (optional) make cards to include in the snack packs. Messages should focus on the positive, such as inspirational quotes, avoiding messages like "I hope you feel better" and "I'm sorry you're having a hard time."
  • Fill each decorated snack pack with a variety of snacks and tie or tape closed.

Additional Resources

Homelessness Fact Sheet for Kids at

Economic Hardship and Poverty Fact Sheet for Kids at

Hunger Fact Sheet for Kids at

Healthy Eating Fact Sheet for Kids at

Food Rules by Bill Haduch
"A single chocolate chip gives you enough energy to walk about 150 feet." This is one of the many kid-friendly facts in Food Rules! From the hypothalamus, (the part of the brain which tells you to eat) through the "Tunnel of Food" (your digestive tract), Bill Haduch plainly tells us everything we need to know about how we eat, the food we eat, and what we need to eat. Food Rules! is loaded with jokes, poems, fun facts and great illustrations by Rick Stromoski.
Anna's Choice by Catherine Carter
Young Anna is overweight and self-conscious.  With the help of a good friend and her family, she changes her eating habits and begins to exercise.  These changes transform her into a healthy and happier person.
Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
A small child lives with his father in an airport.  He talks about sleeping sitting up, washing in the restroom, and above all, avoiding being noticed. The story runs through all his emotions from a matter-of-fact acceptance to a fierce longing that makes him angry with those who have homes.
A Shelter in Our Car by Monica Gunning   
Zettie and her Mama left their warm and comfortable home in Jamaica for an uncertain life in the United Sates. After Papa died, Mama can't find a steady job  and they are forced to live in their car. But Mama's unwavering love, support, and gutsy determination give Zettie the confidence that, together, they will survive.

After you read one of the suggested books or Fact Sheets for Kids to your children, and before you do the project, you can use the following questions to talk about the issues of hunger and homelessness.  Discussing the issue is the key to helping your children develop empathy and compassion for the people that will receive your volunteer project.

  1. Discuss what types of healthy foods your children like to eat and how much they cost.
  2. Based on minimum wage, challenge your family to figure out how long someone must work each month to pay for rent/a mortgage, how long he/she must work to pay for a month's groceries, and how long for a month's worth of healthy snacks.  What is a parent lost her job? Ask your children how they think the families they are helping must feel about these challenges.  Will Snack Packs help these families?
  3. Ask your children what they think "shelter" means. Ask how they think someone might feel without a permanent home to go back to every night.  Discuss why children living in a shelter might appreciate a gift such as a snack pack with healthy snacks.

After your volunteer project, it is important for families to reflect on their experiences.  Choose one of the Reflection Activities from the list below.

Magic Wand – This activity uses the concept of a magic wand to help children talk about and reflect on their volunteer experience.  Have your family sit in a circle.  Tell everyone that you have just found a magic wand that allows you to grant wishes, and pose the questions, “If you could grant a wish to one person, who would it be, and what do you think he or she would wish for?”  “How do you think what we did today will make someone feel, and how do you think that is similar to granting a wish?”

Family Pictionary – Have each member of the family take turns drawing something about their volunteer experience and how they felt about it.  While each person is drawing, have everyone else try to guess what the picture represents.  After each picture is drawn, the artist should talk about the picture and why they chose to draw it.