Book Bag Buddies and Weekend Grub Provide ECPS Students With Food To Take Home On Weekends | Local
Children and teens need healthy meals to learn, including Saturdays and Sundays.
According to Feeding America, 22 million children receive many of these meals as part of nationwide school lunch and breakfast programs. This year, 100 percent of students at Edenton-Chowan Public Schools (ECPS) are benefiting from this program.
While national school breakfast and lunch programs provide nutritious meals to students Monday through Friday, ECPS elementary and middle school students rely on Book Bag Buddies and Weekend Grub – two meal programs. Weekends sponsored by Edenton-Chowan Food Pantry – to help fill that void on Saturday and Sunday.
According to Jo Brown, program manager at Food Pantry, “Children need adequate nutrition every day of the week to grow, develop and be healthy. Going even a day or two without food can have a huge impact on a child’s ability to learn. Food received from Book Bag Buddies or Weekend Grub helps them on Saturdays and Sundays, allowing them to return to school on Mondays, ready to concentrate on their classes.
As the Food Pantry’s main partner in carrying out this important work, teachers and counselors at ECPS see every day how important it is to send these weekend meals home.
“Since 2012, when the program began, we have seen the positive impact Book Bag Buddies has had on our students and in our classrooms. said Katie Milligan, school counselor at White Oak Elementary.
Each week, Food Pantry volunteers deliver individually wrapped bags of tasty, nutritious, and kid-friendly foods to White Oak Elementary, DF Walker Elementary and Chowan Middle Schools for participating children.
In addition to two fresh fruits, donated by Vidant Chowan Hospital, each lunch bag contains food for two breakfasts, two lunches and two snacks. On Friday afternoon, before the students return home, these lunch bags are discreetly distributed by school staff.
Any elementary or middle school child who needs nutritional support takes part. Because a child may not tell anyone that they don’t have enough nutritious food at home over the weekend, some participants are identified by teachers in the classroom based on observed behaviors that may be harmful. indicators of chronic hunger.
Other students are identified by school counselors based on what they know about a child’s home environment. Parents and guardians can also seek help by contacting their child’s school counselor.
Participation is free and there are no income restrictions. Some students are enrolled year after year, while others only attend a few months when their families need extra support.
What’s the difference: Book Bag Buddies vs Weekend Grub?
Weekend Grub is the new weekend meal program for middle school students. With a new name to reflect an assortment of food items more suited to teens, this is essentially a more grown-up version of Book Bag Buddies. By making this change, staff have seen a significant increase in attendance this year, Brown said.
Neighbors across Chowan County face impossible choices: buy food for their families or fix the car that takes them to work; buy groceries for dinner or fill the prescription in his pocket; celebrate a special occasion with a favorite meal or pay the electric bill. These are impossible choices that people shouldn’t have to make. And yet they do.
“We understand that sometimes people need a helping hand, and when those times come, we hope they will turn to the pantry. Said Larry Ekberg, President of Food Pantry. “If you have a child in elementary or middle school and you need a helping hand, please enroll them in Book Bag Buddies or Weekend Grub by contacting your child’s school counselor. Improving the lives of our neighbors is the reason we do what we do.
Funding for Book Bag Buddies and Weekend Grub is made possible in part by the Dominion Energy Foundation, the Chowan Community Funds Foundation, the Vidant Chowan Hospital Community Benefits Program and the Ford Family Charitable Fund. To donate or volunteer at Food Pantry, visit: edenton-chowanpantry.org
Thadd White is Group Editor for Bertie Ledger-Advance, Chowan Herald, Perquimans Weekly, The Enterprise & Eastern North Carolina Living. He can be contacted by email at [email protected]