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Edmonson Voice Staff Report:
It is that time of year again – school will soon be back in session and that means your support is needed in the Adopt-A-Backpacker program. Local volunteers are partnering with Feeding America and the local Family Resource Center/Youth Services Center, in order to help improve the lives of many children in Edmonson County.
In the United States, nearly 13 million children face hunger every single day. According to the most recent Map the Meal Gap study released by Feeding America, there are 2,492 children in Edmonson County under 18 years of age. Of these children, 19.2% or 480 are food insecure and often don’t know where their next meal will come from, if at all. Hunger is harmful to everyone, but it can be especially devastating to children because of its potential for long-term effects.
Good nutrition, especially in the early forming years of life, is important for a strong foundation of a child’s physical and mental health, and academic beginnings. Hunger threatens this crucial foundation, which in turn, threatens a child’s ability to thrive.
Schools and partnering organizations, such as Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland (FAKH), work together to make sure the nutritional foundation of a child’s life is covered. The schools, with the direction of Kentucky Department of Education and United States Department of Agriculture, provide breakfast and lunch to school-age children throughout the school year, and then again through summer feeding programs when school is not in session.
In Edmonson County, the weekends are also covered by a program designed just for school-age children called the BackPack Program. Family resource and youth services professionals and teachers help to identify children, ages 5-18, who may be at risk for hunger on the weekends, and with their assistance, FAKH makes sure bags are prepared to go home each week with the child. The program, now in its 12th year, serves children in 34 counties of the FAKH service area by providing bags filled with 14-17 kid-friendly, single serving foods to eat on the weekend.
Food items may include milk, crackers, macaroni and cheese, raisins, pudding cups, granola and cereal bars, ravioli, tuna – all of which help to fill a child’s stomach in between meals or when other substantial meals are not available at home. Each bag costs $3 to fill and distribute, $120 per child per school year will ensure their nutritional needs are met.
Together, school nutrition programs and the BackPack program continue to bridge the gap between hunger and a child’s stability. For the one in every fourth child, these programs could make all the difference in how the child will develop and mature into a productive adult, and not remain just a statistic.
For each $120 donation, you can adopt one child to receive a bag of food every Friday for the entire school year.
Please complete the attached form (which has Edmonson County prefilled) or donate online by clicking on the photo above.
"Sadly, many children in our county are going an entire weekend with little or no food when a school meal is not available. Have you ever gone a whole day without food? Two days? Can you imagine your own child or grandchildren going without? With your help, we can help cut down on the number of kids that go hungry,” said volunteer coordinator Michelle McCoy. "Children who suffer from food insecurity do not perform well academically, they display unacceptable behavior and have poor attendance due to illness or unexcused absences."
McCoy urges everyone to please help and share with employees, family and friends.
You can download the form below.