Health & Nutrition

Programs

Health & Nutrition

Health and nutrition directly affect educational outcomes, because when children aren’t healthy, they are at risk of missing school and falling behind. When they are hungry or have poor nutrition, their thinking skills, behavior and health suffer, all factors that impact academic performance.

Children who experience poverty have an increased likelihood, extending into adulthood, for numerous chronic illnesses and a shortened life expectancy. A child born in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood can expect to live 18 fewer years than a child born in Clayton. Many of them grow up in areas classified as food deserts, with limited access to nutritious options.

Little Bit is not an expert in healthcare; we are not a food service provider. But we have partnered with exceptional local providers to offer food resources and healthier options, as well as health screenings and preventative education. Our aim is to help close the gap in the resources and services children need for healthy development.

In the 2021-22 school year, we distributed 275,000 pounds of food to students and families and provided 2,100 health screenings and education opportunities.

Sunny’s Closet

The Little Bit Foundation food security sunny's closet programLittle Bit partners with Operation Food Search (OFS) to provide supplemental food kits to students for after school, weekends or during school breaks. Assembled by OFS, Little Bit volunteers deliver the kits to schools, which are stored/disseminated in accordance with the needs and capacity of the school. We also work with schools on best practices to ensure students have easy access to the program.

Mobile Food Markets

In partnership with St. Louis Area Foodbank, we host drive-thru food markets at three school communities once a month, distributing fresh produce, dairy items, bread, bakery items and frozen foods provided by the Foodbank.

Shop & Grow/Family Food Markets

Partnering with St. Louis Area Foodbank, we manage in-school markets in school communities that offer families free groceries and nutritional resources. Watch news segment on our in-school food markets here.

Healthy Kids, Better Learners

Utilizing our partnerships with IFM Community Medicine and SLU School of Nursing, we coordinate student physicals, vision and oral screenings as well as necessary referrals. As clinics are in progress, health education is provided to classrooms on a topic that fits the needs of that particular school. While identifying healthcare needs, these activities also help students build a positive mindset about healthcare and seeing healthcare professionals.  

Eyes on Learning

Eyeglasses are truly out of reach for families living at or below the poverty line. Yet, they are without question essential to learning. In one study on the connection between literacy and visual clarity, students who failed a vision screening displayed a rapid improvement in reading fluency after receiving eyeglasses. In partnership with Eye Thrive, Little Bit coordinates no-cost eye exams and eyeglass fittings for students in our partner schools.

Oral Health

Low-income children are up to 5 times more likely to have untreated tooth decay which frequently causes general health problems, learning difficulties, discomfort, eating problems, and self esteem issues. We partner with Gateway to Oral Health to bring dental treatment and preventive care to students in the school setting. Through a longstanding relationship with HealthWorks!, we also coordinate field trips to the HealthWorks! Kids Museum as well as in-school programs on nutrition and oral health education.