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January 27, 2014

BCFC strives for healthy, educated community

MILLEDGEVILLE —

Baldwin County Family Connection (BCFC) spent more than a year examining the community in detail to pinpoint its strengths, challenges and gaps within particular issues and neighborhoods. Results from BCFC’s community assessment indicate the target focus needs to be in developing and enhancing opportunities for children and families in the Harrisburg neighborhood to help ensure educational success and healthy lifestyles.

“Harrisburg is a traditionally black neighborhood with a long tradition as a vital area of our community. In recent years, businesses, schools and home ownership have moved away or declined,” said Janet Cavin, coordinator of the BCFC. “The collaboration will be working with several partners to reinvigorate this neighborhood and address the health and educational needs of the neighborhood members.”

According to the community assessment, 25.2 percent of nearly 46,000 Baldwin County residents live below the poverty level. The poverty rate for children under the age of 18 is 31.6 percent, which is approximately the same percentage of those children who receive free or reduced meals at school.

“There are neighborhoods throughout our county where many who fall into this category reside. The number is alarming considering that Georgia’s rate of persons living below the poverty level is 16.5 percent,” Cavin said. “We have two neighborhoods maintained by the Milledgeville Housing Authority, but there are also pockets in our community whose residents consistently fall below the poverty level.”

Of the 600 students attending Midway Elementary School, located in the Harrisburg neighborhood, 87 percent of their families fall below the poverty level. Using a $1,500 grant awarded by Tri-County EMC in December 2012, BCFC kicked off a weekend food program last year to keep the stomachs of 40 kindergartners full over the weekend with healthier meal alternatives. Communities In Schools of Milledgeville-Baldwin County, First Baptist Church and First United Methodist Church saw the need for the program and decided to help continue providing the free weekend meal to students.

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