October 25, 2012

Support Needed for Buddy Pack Program to Fight Student Hunger

Erica Yarbrough, Annalise Miller, Robyn Hayes and Arysta Snyder participate in the ongoing food drive at SCR-I Elementary School to aid the Buddy Pack program.

Approximately 55,000 students in the Central Missouri Food Bank's service area in central and northeast Missouri including Scotland County, qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals. According to the food bank, for many of the students, breakfast and lunch at school offer the only source of reliable nutrition and they are at risk of hunger over the weekend.

To battle this problem, the food bank partners with elementary schools in each of the 32 counties it serves to provide the Buddy Packs to school children. Buddy Packs are backpacks filled with kid-friendly, nutritious food that students take home over the weekend or holiday periods to supplement their meals when there is not enough for them to eat at home.

After the weekend, the kids bring their empty Buddy Pack back to school to be refilled by local volunteers. The program continues week after week throughout the school year or as needed to keep the growing youngsters happy and healthy.

During the 2012-13 school-year, the Buddy Pack program is expected to help feed more than 6,700 children each week.

In years past, The Central Missouri Food Bank has provided local elementary-school students with these balanced and nutritious meals in the Buddy Pack program at no cost to the community. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, the program has lost its funding. This has placed local communities in the position to assess and determine whether and how to meet the needs of these children.

The Scotland Country R-I Elementary School has joined with J's Foods and The Scotland County Ministerial Alliance to begin a community-wide effort to provide "Buddy Packs" to the children of families who have requested the continued services of this program.

So far, Elementary School Guidance Counselor Dani Fromm has received responses from the families of 68 children requesting the program.

The Elementary School has already begun its efforts by hosting a food drive encouraging fellow elementary school children to donate food items that could go into the Buddy Packs. Food items being requested include canned soups and pastas, peanut butter, saltine crackers, fresh fruits, fruit cups, pudding cups, breakfast bars, and various other single-serving-sized items that can be micro-waved or otherwise easily prepared for snacks and meals.

Local churches, merchants and service organizations are encouraged to join in these efforts through financial and food donations to the local Buddy Pack program.

J's Foods has agreed to provide cases of food items at cost. Simply place your order and pay for the items ordered. One of the organizers of the Buddy Pack program will then pick up the food items and distribute them through the Buddy Packs.

To learn more about the program or to make donations of food items and financial contributions to the program directly contact Dani Fromm at Scotland County R-I Elementary at (660) 465-8532 or Dan Hite of The Scotland County Ministerial Alliance at (660) 465-2142.

"It will take a community-wide effort to effectively sustain this needed program throughout the school year, and your help would be greatly appreciated," Hite stated.

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