Educators say millions of schoolchildren arrive to class on Monday mornings too hungry to concentrate. Even though schools are serving more free or discounted breakfasts and lunches during the week, students often go hungry on the weekend.
As important as the school lunch program is, there are other programs that help to feed hungry schoolchildren. One such program sends needy children home with backpacks full of food on Fridays to keep them from going hungry on weekends. These backpacks are distributed by more than 120 food banks at 1,200 schools in 40 states. Funding for the backpack program comes from individuals, churches and civic clubs.
Second Harvest of Northeast Tennessee is one of the food banks that has helped to pioneer this successful program. Food for Kids sends backpacks loaded with nutritious snacks and individually packaged heat-and-eat meals home with needy students in Johnson City schools. Individual donations and corporate sponsorship have allowed Second Harvest to expand the program to other school systems in the area.
Now, as Press staff writer Sue Guinn Legg reported recently, there’s another program to help feed hungry schoolchildren while they are on summer break. Good Samaritan Ministries’ Summer Food program, which includes three monthly distributions to 600 families of students from schools in Johnson City and Washington, Carter and Unicoi counties, will kick off June 21. The ministry’s summer food distributions will be held at the Appalachian Fair in Gray, where subsequent distributions will be held July 19 and Aug. 2.
Each distribution will include enough fresh, frozen and canned meats, vegetables, fruits, pasta, peanut butter and other kid-friendly foods to provide for a family of four for about two weeks, as well as paper products, toiletry items and cleaning supplies to help supplement their grocery budget. Additional food items will be provided for families with more than four people.
Good Samaritan needs your help to make this project a success. The ministry is now accepting money to help cover the cost of the food program. A $35 donation will sponsor one family for one month, and a more generous contribution of $105 will sponsor a family for all three distributions.
Donations to Good Samaritan earmarked for Summer Food or for Back to School may be made online at www.goodsamjc.org or by mail to P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605.