MILLEDGEVILLE — Countless Americans struggle with hunger due to poor economic status.
According to data compiled through the United States Census, Georgia’s poverty rate was the third highest in the country in 2010. More than 20 percent of families in Milledgeville live in poverty.
A college student driven organization formed to combat the national issue at the Baldwin County level.
Georgia College’s Bobcats Against Hunger is affiliated with the national non-profit Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE).
The student organization’s mission is raising awareness about poverty in the Milledgeville area and collecting $12,500 to provide 50,000 healthy meals to students within the Baldwin County school system.
With more than 80 percent of Baldwin County public school students qualifying for free or reduced meals last school year, the school system has seen that percentage continually increase.
The school system is participating in a federal school meal program, known as Provision 2, that provides every student breakfast and lunch at no charge for the next four years, regardless of the student’s free, reduced price or paid eligibility category.
Georgia College student McKenzie Fisher said the county school system is aware and supportive in partnering with the GC group.
Georgia College sophomores Sofia Papa and Fisher came up with the idea after attending a Hunger Project in Atlanta. Contact with Kara Teresi, Georgia College Class of 2009 alumna serving as a relationship manager for FCE, brought the students to the cause.
“We got to experience it firsthand and realized this is something we could do here,” Fisher said. “There is a huge need in Baldwin County.”
Almost 30 students actively contribute to the organization.
“Students seemed encouraged and like this as something to participate in,” Fisher said.
Bobcats Against Hunger, in coordination with One Week, which is a school wide event promoting hunger and poverty awareness, will provide halftime show entertainment at Wednesday’s Bobcat Basketball ‘Toss Away Hunger’ Senior Night by selling paper basketballs with a purpose.
Everyone attending will receive one complimentary paper basketball. Attendees may purchase an additional four basketballs for $1.
GC sophomore Meredith Bowden, head of fundraising for the group, said 25 cent feeds a child, so the extra dollar helps four kids.
A special guest will blindly toss a basketball on a lucky winner’s name.
Prizes include a $50 LongHorn gift card, GC merchandise and more.
All proceeds benefit local children in Baldwin County Schools.
Currently, the group has nearly $9,500. Members are looking for a final push leading into the March packaging event.
Bobcats Against Hunger and Feeding Children Everywhere are partnering for the Hunger Project at Georgia College from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 29. Volunteers are asked to help hand-package 50,000 meals at the Centennial Center to be distributed to local schools.
“We are hoping these meals will get distributed to children on the weekends when they don’t have their free or reduced lunch, so they can take home a nutritious meal,” Fisher said.
The packaged fare features rice, lintels, Himalayan salt and dried vegetables.
“Students will compete in their assembly line to finish their packaging first,” Fisher said.
Look for Bobcats Against Hunger at the Greenway Farmer’s Market weekly.
For more information about the organization, to donate, or volunteer, visit www.secure.qgiv.com/hobnob/event/22170, or join the Bobcats Against Hunger Facebook page.
Bobcats Against Hunger aspires to feed 100,000 county children in two years time, growing to provide meals during the summer months.