Youth and Family Initiatives

4 volunteers at elementary school, arms up, celebrating the end of a mobile distribution. early fall, sunny, green trees.

Food For Thought School Pantry Program

Second Harvest partners with schools to create in-school pantries for youth and their families. Pantry program designs vary based on the community’s needs and the school’s location and capacity. The resources provided are available for all students and staff to utilize during normal school hours. With the name “Food For Thought School Pantry Program,” we continue a grassroots legacy in honor of Holocaust survivor and anti-hunger activist Thea Aschkenase, who volunteered extensively in schools to educate and feed students.

In partnership with Second Harvest, Madison Metropolitan School District is currently utilizing drive-thru distributions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To find a distribution in your area, visit the MMSD website.

For inquiries about the School Pantry program, please contact Youth and Family Initiatives Manager, Brian Squire, at

Kids Cafes

The Kids Cafe program provides free meals and snacks to children at a variety of community locations where young people congregate during the after school hours. In addition to providing meals, these programs offer a safe space where children can participate in nutrition education, academic, culinary, and recreational activities.

This program provides funding that can be used to pay cook salaries as well as order food through Second Harvest and other vendors. Second Harvest Kids Cafe partners cook meals on site for and/or with the kids during afterschool programs.

For inquiries about the Kids Cafe program, please contact Youth and Family Initiatives Specialist, Kylie Jacobsen, at

Backpack Program

Backpack programs provide after-school or weekend meals to youth and their families. Typically, youth and/or families that ask for food assistance receive backpacks filled with non-perishable food on Friday afternoons to take home. 

For inquiries about the Backpack program, please contact Youth and Family Initiatives Coordinator, Brian Squire, at


Thanks to a Henry J. Predolin Foundation grant through the United Way, Second Harvest is able to provide funds to Dane County youth programs to order fresh produce and dairy products through a partnership with R.E. Golden Produce. This funding is intended for afterschool programs that need additional resources for snacks or fresh ingredients to supplement meals.

For inquiries about the Predolin program, please contact Youth and Family Initiatives Specialist, Kylie Jacobsen, at

Nutrition Education

The youth and family initiatives team is dedicated to not only providing food resources, but fostering a holistic approach to health through nutrition education and other enrichment opportunities. To learn more, check out our health and wellness initiatives