April Bath wants people in her community to know that there is a problem that has slipped under most peoples’ radar. Hundreds of local students go home each weekend during the school year to homes that cannot properly afford to feed them. Many of these students don’t get the nutrients they need until they return to school Monday morning.
Discovering this led her to join the Committee Against Child Hunger (CACH), an organization formed in 2012 to help get these students fed during their time way from school through food donations. Since joining in 2013, Bath said that her heart has been warmed by knowing that she is helping students with something that most people take for granted.
“Kids were going home and not eating until they came back to school. So CACH started the backpack program, which fills backpacks with non-perishable foods that kids can prepare themselves so that they can get the nutrients they need at home,” Bath said.
The program has become a big hit, helping out 215 students at all the schools in Ely, McGill and Lund beside White Pine High School, which has their own food pantry, Bath pointed out. The money to pay for the food comes strictly from fundraising events, such as the CACH dinner, which happens once a year at the Renaissance Village and raises money through silent auctions. Bath said that if it weren’t for the combined effort of many volunteers, donations, local businesses, and those that participate in fundraisers, an effort like the backpack program would never get off of the ground.
“It’s amazing to see how our community can support something like this,” Bath said.
CACH President Susan Keough agreed, extending special thank you’s to both Anderson’s Food Town and White Pine Social Services, who she said have been “critical” to the programs success and stability.
After volunteers pack one months worth of back packs inside the Episcopal Church, the backpacks are then distributed to the various schools. Teachers and school counselors then pass off the backpacks to the students who have been identified by the school as needing the assistance. Though it adds an extra step, having the schools be responsible for the giving out of backpacks adds a layer of privacy to ensure those that are helping never know who is going to receive it.
CACH will begin packing backpacks for students on Sept. 15 at the St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church.