For students in Beattyville, Kentucky, school is back in session. Their weekdays will be filled with learning new things, spending time with friends, and adjusting to the new normal since the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Unfortunately, with 85% of these students qualifying for free lunch, poverty is a significant factor in their daily lives. These students are guaranteed a meal during the weekdays, but what do they eat on the weekends and during holidays?
Our partner, Lee County Family Resource Center Coordinator Paige Denniston, recently told us, “Often, students are being raised by family members who are not receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and are trying to feed up to a dozen individuals in one home. Many students are often seen hoarding food in their backpacks, eating the leftovers of classmates, and asking for more food every meal. An unfortunate reality also is that many parents sell their SNAP benefits in exchange for cash or substances, meaning their children go without.”
This semester, in partnership with the Lee County Family Resource Center, Americans Helping Americans® will be providing the funds for the Resource Center to create weekend food bags that will be sent home with students who have no access to food as well as holiday meals for families through our program; “Feeding the Future.”
With help from lunchroom staff, local agencies, and teachers, the Resource Center will develop a list of students who are in obvious need of extra food and nutrients. These are students who always ask for seconds, eat their meals quickly or until they are sick, or even hoard food for later. The Resource Center will then ensure the food pantry is stocked with items that the students can open and use themselves through this grant provided by Americans Helping Americans®.
Paige continues, “By sending the food home with kids in their backpacks, we are able to ensure that they are actually receiving these items.”
The Resource Center expects to serve 150 students each week throughout the year. Last year, in their efforts to curb food insecurity among students in the county, schools sent food to the homes of children every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Unfortunately, the program has been discontinued for this academic school year, and our “Feeding the Future” program is the only way many students will be able to eat during the weekends.
Each Feeding the Future backpack consists of $10 worth of dry food items like noodles, fruit bars, and vegetables and are easy for kids to open, or even heat or make on their own.
For years, one of the most pressing needs our supporters have helped us combat throughout Appalachia is food insecurity. From providing assistance to grassroots food pantries to helping us build community gardens in small towns, we’re doing everything in our power to ensure the hungry are fed in a sustainable way across Appalachia. Feeding the Future backpacks are our way of continuing to meet this great need for youth in Kentucky.