submitted by Edmonson County native Jamie Sizemore, Feeding America Executive Director:
As the month of August begins, so does another school year. New clothes and shoes are a must, as well as a book bag filled with the necessary school supplies. School children, all decked out with their new things, look forward to seeing classmates after the long summer break.
Unfortunately, though, there will be a group of kids, at each school, in every grade, who will look forward to having a constant supply of adequate food every school week in their book bag.
One in five children who live in central, south central, and western Kentucky are food insecure, meaning they may not know where their next meal will come from. Those who attend school have breakfast and lunch covered, but when Friday rolls around, anxiety sets in.
For that one child, it’s not what time will we eat over the weekend, but will there be enough food in the house, if any, to eat.
To help alleviate food insecurity in children, school professionals and guardians turn to Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland (FAKH) for the BackPack Program. Through this program, pre-packed bags of 12-15 kid-friendly, single serve food items are discretely placed in the child’s backpack on the last day of the school week, with the goal to help and feed the child over the weekend.
The food items, such as shelf-stable milk, cereal, tuna, vegetables, beef ravioli, peanut butter, oatmeal, granola bars, fruit cups, macaroni and cheese, raisins, and more, often make the difference in the long hours of a weekend for a child. Each one of the bags only costs $3 to fill and distribute, $120 per child ensures their nutritional needs for the 40 full weeks of school.
Now in its 13th year, the FAKH BackPack Program was created to help alleviate childhood hunger across rural Kentucky. During the 2018-19 school year, the program served over 5,500 children each week in 34 counties, including Edmonson County.
Together, school nutrition programs and the BackPack Program continue to bridge the gap between hunger and a child’s stability. For the one out of five children in rural Kentucky, the programs make all the difference in how the child will develop and learn.
For more information about the BackPack Program, or to sponsor a child in Edmonson County for this school year, visit www.feedingamericaky.org, call 270-769-6997 or toll free 877-532-2767.
Jamie Sizemore is the Executive Director for Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, which provides hunger-relief programs in 42 central, southcentral, and western Kentucky counties. She can be reached at 270-769-6997 ext. 103, toll free 877-532-2767, or www.feedingamericaky.org.
Note: the thoughts and opinions expressed by Edmonson Voice guest columnists and authors of submitted articles are their own, not necessarily those of EdmonsonVoice.com