The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri Western Regional Coordinator Darren White said he is hoping to bring additional awareness of the continued weekend Buddy Pack Program for children in Pettis County.
The Buddy Pack program provides approximately five to six pounds of food placed into a backpack for school children to take home on the weekend, insuring they have needed food in between school lunches.
Packs include the addition of peanut butter once a month, and other non-perishable food items such as shelf-stable milk, fruit cups, granola bars, a type of cereal, grain products and other entree items each weekend during the school year.
“It’s all kid-friendly, easy to open,” White said. “They can fix it at their own if they are home alone.”
To feed one child during the school year costs $180, White said. For every $1 donated The Food Bank is able to purchase $21 in food for the program.
“We can stretch the funding a long ways,” he added.
Funding for the program is ongoing and White noted they are always looking for those who wish to help with the Buddy Packs.
“We are here and we continue to need funding,” he noted. “It’s $180 for one child, but if they can give $50 we aren’t going to turn anything down, we accept any kind of monetary donation.”
Right now, the program services 312 students in 10 schools. The Buddy Pack Program involves Green Ridge R-VIII Elementary, Heber Hunt Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary, Parkview Elementary, Washington Elementary, Sedalia Middle School, Skyline Elementary, La Monte R-IV Elementary, Pettis County R-V (Northwest) Elementary and Smithton R-VI Elementary.
“In The Food Bank service area you have one in five kids who are food insecure, and in Pettis County free and reduced lunch is at 76 percent,” White noted.
He added that the number of children qualifying for free and reduced lunch in Pettis County is up from last year.
The Food Bank will also be hosting Stamp Out Hunger with the National Association of Letter Carriers Food Drive May 13. A portion of that drive also goes toward the Buddy Pack Program.
“That will be around the corner,” he noted. “There was about 15,000 pounds of food (collected) last year, and about $1,500 to $1,600. The dollars go toward the Buddy Pack Program. We will do that again this year.”
Donating to the Buddy Pack Program is easy, White said.
“(Central Bank of Sedalia) is the contact, if people want to give they can send their funding there, if they find it easier,” White said. “Otherwise they can send it directly to The Food Bank or they can check out our website as well and give online.”
To donate to the Buddy Pack Program mail a check to Erica Peterson at Central Bank of Sedalia, 403 W. Broadway Blvd., Sedalia, Mo. 65301 or mail to The Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri, 2101 Vandiver Dr., Columbia, Mo. 65202-1910. For more information, visit sharefoodbringhope.org.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or on Twitter @flbemiss.