Food Bank Needs Donations as School Year Ends

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COLUMBIA - Walk into any elementary or middle school in central and northeast Missouri, and count every other child. That's how many children in this region do not have enough food to eat.

To help combat this problem, the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri in Columbia has a program called Buddy Pack. The Buddy Pack program sends kids home with food on the weekends. This program feeds more than 6,500 kids weekly, but only reaches 12 percent of the children in need of food.

The Food Bank's Communications Director, Scott Gordon, said the food bank sees a decline in the number of donations made to Buddy Pack around this time of year.

"The need for donations at the end of the school year is significant. As you might expect, out of sight is out of mind. A lot of people think that when summer comes, problems go away- they don't," Gordon said.

Gordon also said the program does more for the kids than just provide food. 

"The packs sometimes allow kids to provide food for other family members. There is a role reversal there, when the kids are taking care of the people who should be taking care of them. Buddy Pack gives the kids food, but also confidence from being able to help someone else," Gordon said. 

Buddy Pack operates from food and monetary donations made to the food bank. With one dollar, the food bank is able to buy and distribute 15 pounds of food.

Four basic food items found in Buddy Packs are:

  • Protein
  • Energy bars for carbohydrates
  • Grain products (cereal or granola)
  • Individual canned fruit

Parent volunteer, Casey Collier, has volunteered for the Buddy Pack program at Shepard Elementary School in Columbia for four years. She said the program helps feed 51 kids at the school, and thousands of kids across the country.

"It started out in California. There was a teacher who had a little kid run up to her when she was getting on the bus for the weekend. The kid grabbed her leg and said she didn't want to go home because there was no food at home, so she decided to start the Buddy Pack program to provide food for kids over the weekend," Collier said.

Buddy Pack at the food bank in Columbia serves 130 schools, 28 countries, and 64 communities, but is limited only by the amount of donations and resources.

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