MILLEDGEVILLE — Of the 560 Midway Elementary School students, 87 percent are economically disadvantaged, qualifying them for a free or reduced school lunch. Using a $1,500 grant awarded by Tri-County EMC in December, Baldwin County Family Connection hopes to keep the tummies of 40 youth a little full over the weekend from now through the end of the academic year.
“There are many children across our county who don’t have enough to eat on the weekends due to their family’s economic status. We made the application to Tri-County EMC asking for money to help fund a weekend food program. From discussions I was having with folks from the school system and the Department of Family & Children Services, there are children who are either going without adequate nutrition or sometimes nothing at all going into the weekend,” said Janet Cavin, coordinator of Baldwin County Family Connection. “Midway is a school where most of the children who attend are eligible for free or reduced lunch. We knew there was a need and this would be a great pilot program to benefit the children.”
Kicking off the food program just last Friday, 40 kindergartners were provided a brown bag filled with a can of ravioli, peanut butter crackers, applesauce, peaches, Pop-Tarts and a juice box.
“We try to include nonperishable foods with nutritional value like protein items, fruits and vegetables. The whole packet costs $2.50 each,” Cavin said. “We will give food to 40 children from one particular grade level, kindergarten through fifth grade, each Friday, and then rotate it until the end of the school year.”
Midway Elementary Principal Antonio Ingram is grateful to Tri-County EMC and the community health department for making the opportunity to help local school families possible.
“A lot of children eat candy and sugary products, but the food program provides free, healthy snacks or meals children can eat over the weekend. The children were very thankful for the program and very receptive last week,” he said. “The main goal is to promote healthy eating and healthy living for our student population.”
Cavin hopes to obtain additional grant funds and donations of nonperishable food items in order to expand and implement the weekend food program into the Baldwin County public school system by the next school year.
“Community organizations and churches can donate food or funds. It would be wonderful to have this program at every school in the county,” Cavin said. “If children have their nutritional needs met, then they do better in school and go through the day with enough energy. We’re hoping that by providing additional food over the weekend, students will have more security about having enough to eat and won’t come to school so hungry.”
For more information about the pilot food program, or to donate funds or food items, contact Cavin at 478-457-2000.
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