February 2, 2012

Food Bank's Buddy Pack Program in Need of Support

A total of 334 kids in Scotland County financially qualify for free and reduced priced lunches at school. For several of these children, school lunches are the most if not the only nutritious meals they receive and they do not have access to a sufficient food supply on the weekends or breaks from school. To answer this need, The Food Bank's Buddy Pack program provides the poorest children with healthy food to take home over the weekend.

In Scotland County, The Food Bank partners with Scotland R-I School and sends food home with 56 students each week. However, the program may have to be severely cut back or at worse eliminated due to rising costs.

The program faces a number of challenges:

Due to a change in corporate policy a major food manufacturer has had to dramatically reduce food donations earmarked for this program.

Fuel prices have skyrocketed in the past 18 months and it now costs more in long distance freight to bring food in.

The Food Bank purchases nearly all the Buddy Pack food at wholesale cost. Even with that discount, food expenses have increased anywhere from 15% to 30%.

Peanut Butter, a major source of protein for the children, had a price increase of 40% due to failed peanut crops nationally.

At the start of the school year, The Food Bank estimated that a Buddy Pack would cost $100 per student for both semesters. Within two months the cost had increased to $150. They now estimate the cost will be at least $180 per child before 2012 is over.

"I've been at the food bank for 20 years and we've never had to cut a program, and I don't want to start now - especially a program that is really changing the lives of children in need," said Peggy Kirkpatrick, executive director of The Food Bank.

The Food Bank is launching an "Adopt a Buddy" initiative in hopes of getting Scotland County citizens to pay for the cost of a Buddy Pack for one child in 2012. The goal is to find 56 sponsors in this county as soon as possible. To sponsor one child, it costs $180 or $15 a month for 12 months.

Kirkpatrick says, "If 56 of our partners in Scotland County 'adopt' just one child, we will be able to sustain this needed program for 2012 and grow it where it's needed."

For more information, or to Adopt a Buddy, visit sharefoodbringhope.org/adoptabuddy

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