Approximately 21 percent of children in Forsyth County’s elementary and middle schools are a part of the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program. When Nick Futrell and Kinsey White learned this, they decided to be a part of the solution for combating child hunger.
“We researched the topic, met with local principals and social workers to find out if child hunger affects our county. We quickly discovered that some students have little to no food on the weekends, and this issue needed to be addressed,” said Futrell.
Futrell and White, students at Lambert High School, launched the local chapter of Blessings in a Backpack to help serve the at-risk children of their community after resonating with an article they read in People magazine.
“We realized that in order to defeat hunger, we had to start in our own community,” he said.
The most at-risk children were identified by social workers and counselors in the school system to make sure the efforts have an impact. “The weekend backpacks help tide them over until they return to school where they receive free hot breakfast and lunch,” said Janna Barroso, school social worker for Forsyth County Schools.
Lambert Blessings in a Backpack supports 106 children in nine elementary and middle schools in the county.
Every Friday morning, the student volunteers at Lambert gather before school to pack granola bars, juice boxes and soups into backpacks that are then distributed with the help of 20 parent volunteers. They drop off the book bags at the school which are returned on Monday to start the process all over again.
The students who receive the backpacks are now get better test scores, have improved reading skills, increased attendance, and emulate positive behavior all because they are no longer complaining about being hungry.
The local chapter is always in need of parent volunteers and individuals or organizations who can host food drives to help collect non-perishable food to help Lambert Blessings in a Backpack continue giving back to children in need.
The local effort is a part of the national organization that is based out of Louisville, Ky. Blessings in a Backpack is currently feeding over 63,000 children in 583 schools in 45 states.
“The fact that children we support could ride the same buses as our brothers and sisters inspired us to help eliminate child hunger in our community,”said Futrell.
In other news: Verizon Wireless presented a $1,000 HopeLine grant to Stronghold Atlanta on Feb. 26. Stronghold Atlanta is a women’s resource center serving the needs of those who have been victims of domestic violence or abuse.