Communities In Schools, Elaine Wynn and Steve Wynn Donate $1 Million to Three Square to Help Hungry Children

Jan 07, 2010, 14:00 ET from Communities In Schools of Nevada

LAS VEGAS, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- Communities In Schools of Nevada, Nevada's leading organization dedicated to empowering students to stay in school and achieve in life, announced that it is donating $1 million to Three Square, Southern Nevada's leader in the fight against hunger. The donation will be funded by Elaine Wynn, National Board Chairman of Communities In Schools and Director of Wynn Resorts, and resort developer Steve Wynn. This donation will ensure the sustainability of the "BackPack for Kids" Program, which provides bags of kid-friendly, nutritious food to children in the Clark County School District so they have food to eat over the weekend.

Approximately 45.5 percent of children enrolled in the Clark County School District receive "Free and Reduced Meals." In other words, more than 140,000 school children are at risk of being hungry. Research shows that hungry children suffer up to four times as many health problems as non-hungry children, are more likely to be absent from school and are far more likely to suffer from iron-deficiency anemia, which can cause developmental and behavioral problems that affect children's ability to learn.

Because basic nutrition is essential for every child to be healthy and to be successful in school, Communities In Schools of Nevada established the WeekEND Hunger initiative in 2004 to send children home with backpacks filled with child-friendly food (food that requires no preparation or adult assistance to eat) to those who have been identified by their schools as "food fragile." In many cases this is the only food these children will eat all weekend. In 2008, the WeekEND Hunger program was taken over by Three Square (and renamed "BackPack for Kids") to create a single integrated school-based weekend food delivery system that reaches over 5,100 children a week in 185 schools in the Clark County and Colorado River regions.

"We are proud to be supporting this vital program on behalf of Communities In Schools of Nevada," said Elaine Wynn. "This donation will greatly expand the program that provides food for children whose families have fallen on hard times during the recent economic downturn. It is critical to have their most basic needs fulfilled so that they can have a fighting chance at success in school."

"For many children in our community, hunger is a constant companion," said Louise Helton, State Director of Communities In Schools of Nevada. "The 'BackPack for Kids' Program is the ideal marriage of Communities In Schools' mission of surrounding students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life with Three Square's mission of providing wholesome food to hungry people while passionately pursuing a hunger free community."

According to Julie Murray, president and CEO of Three Square, the "BackPack for Kids" Program is a highly targeted and specific program that is reaching one of the most vulnerable populations in our valley - school children. "Thanks to the generosity of visionary individuals and organizations like the Wynns' and Communities in Schools, Three Square is making even greater strides in its battle to end hunger. We are thrilled to be the conduit and the end recipient for this generous donation that will allow us to continue providing food to children through our Childhood Nutrition Program," said Murray.

To learn more about Communities In Schools of Nevada's drop out prevention programs, please visit our Web site at

About Communities In Schools of Nevada: Communities In Schools surrounds students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Through a school-based coordinator, Communities In Schools connects students and their families to critical community resources, tailored to local needs.

Working in more than 3,200 schools, in the most challenged communities, in 26 states, and the District of Columbia, Communities In Schools serves nearly 1.4 million young people and their families every year. Communities In Schools has become the nation's leading dropout prevention organization, and the only one proven to both decrease dropout rates and increase graduation rates.

About Three Square: Three Square was established to end hunger in the valley by providing wholesome, nutritious food to non-profit organizations that serve a wide range of Southern Nevadans in need. A national model project inspired by Eric Hilton with a grant provided by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Three Square is a community collaborative partnership with the gaming industry, businesses, non-profit agencies, food distributors, UNLV, the CCSD, governmental entities, the media and hundreds of volunteers to efficiently and effectively serve hope to those in our community struggling with hunger. Three Square currently provides 17 million pounds of food - the equivalent of 13 million meals - per year to more than 260 non-profit and faith-based organizations, 180 schools and 11 summer food service sites throughout Southern Nevada. Three Square is a member of the Feeding America network of foodbanks.

SOURCE Communities In Schools of Nevada