Weekend snack packs designed to help feed hungry students

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By Becky Barnes

Its painfully obvious on Monday mornings which children have had no sustainable food over the weekend.

These students are ravenous and gobble their school-provided breakfasts at break-neck speed as lunchroom monitors and teachers are witness to their hunger.

I dont know what its like to be hungry, said Kim Brooks, NorthEast Family Resource director. I dont think the majority of people really know what its like.

However, because there are children living in Cynthiana and Harrison County who are hungry and who know very well the fear of having no food in the house, Weekend Snack Pack was started.

The project is supported by area churches who provide individually packaged food items to the Family Resource Centers (FRYSC). Brooks, along with Family Resource colleagues Sheila Price, Vicki Faulkner, Paula Barnett and Brad Allison oversee the project,

Initially, it was called Weekend Back Pack. Snacks were tucked discretely into a back pack and those were given to students who had been referred either by teachers, lunchroom monitors or through knowledge of the FRYSC team. Because the project has grown so rapidly, the backpacks had to give way to double-bagged snacks.

Sheila Price, SouthWest FRYSC director, said when the program started in February 2007, nine students were given the weekend snack packs. Now, about 100 students receive their cache of snack foods for the weekend on Friday afternoons just before school dismisses.

Theyre told its theirs and they dont have to share, Faulkner said of the packs that contain enough snacks for one child.

Brooks added that the packs are designed as a supplement to what the family might have in the house.

Each pack contains two boxes of individual-size cereal, a granola cereal bar, three juice boxes, a fruit cup, two pudding cups, a microwaveable mac and cheese, one package of Ramen noodles, a tuna or chicken salad kit, a package of Ritz Bits cheese crackers and a box of raisins. Variations could be Vienna sausages, Fruit Roll-ups, Spaghetti-Os, pull-tab soups, Jell-O or other single-serve items. Peanut-based products should be avoided due to possibly unknown food allergies.

These are designed to be healthy, but also so they dont have to fire up the stove, Price said.

Faulkner said a couple of church groups purchase the snacks and bag them for delivery.

The snack packs are delivered even during the summer months through the Summer Feeding Program. Children who attend one of the feeding stations and who have been identified as those who might be hungry, are given the weekend snack bag.

These families get the same amount of food stamps if [children] are home during the week as they get when they arent, Barnett said.

One statistic indicates that about 20 percent of Harrison Countys children live at or below poverty level.

Price noted that families are appreciative of the assistance. The program attempts to provide snack packs for siblings living in the same household. That keeps any one child from having to give up his treats.

She said its the assistance from churches that make this and many other programs possible.

Our faith community is very giving, Brooks said.

Price added that local church groups not only collaborate for this program, but they also provide shoes and cleaning supplies.

She said in addition to the constant need for snacks for the children, there is a definite need for other items for the family like cleaning and laundry supplies, and personal hygiene items. Those things would not be sent in a snack pack, but would be kept on hand at the center and delivered when needed.

Brooks added that any church or civic group looking for a service project should contact FRYSC at 234-7160.