This program serves school aged children who are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program. Many of these children are in situations where they may or may not have access to food during the weekend or family members present to prepare meals. Food Link has created a way to provide meals for these children that are easy to prepare. Food Link prepares bags of food that are made available to groups like Messiah who pick them up and deliver them to the schools. The teachers place the bags in in the children’s backpacks. These bags cost $2.50 each and they contain 2 meals and several snacks. This might be oatmeal or cereal, tuna, mac and Cheese, or canned pasta; fruit strips, granola bars, applesauce, and a shelf stable milk product.
All items are very easy for small children to prepare themselves and the selection of food is based on national guidelines. Currently Food Link is serving over 2,000 children in Monroe County and Messiah Lutheran Church serves 44. Volunteers pick the bags up at Food Link and deliver them to Holmes Road School and Buckman Heights School on Friday mornings. Those weeks that are followed by a vacation we deliver on Thursday and Friday. Since each bag weighs up to 8 pounds this saves the smaller children from carrying heavy loads. We understand that one small bag of food will not keep the child from being hungry during a vacation week but we know that it will help.
The backpack program uses volunteers two ways. First are the drivers that pick up and deliver the bags to the elementary schools. Secondly, a couple of times during the year we volunteer at Food Link to help in the warehouse sorting food, packing fruit, or filling backpacks. If you’d like to help look for the sign-up sheets on the bulletin board or see Kim Mass or Reggie Renz.