Adopt A Buddy Initiative Will Provide More Students Food Next School Year

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COLUMBIA - The Central and Northeast Missouri Food Bank is able to continue the Buddy Pack program with the success of its Adopt a Buddy initiative. Nearly 2,000 children have been "adopted" since the end of January. Adopting a child means paying fifteen dollars each month to ensure one child has food over the weekend.

In January, the food bank announced financial troubles due to increased gas and food prices. The cost of one pack was $100 in 2011. But in 2012, the cost went up 80 percent, to $180.

"We knew we needed immediate funding," the food bank's director of development, Bobbie Kincade said.

As of March, 1,000 children in Missouri had been "adopted." Now, that number has doubled to nearly 2,000 children. In monetary terms, that will cost about $360,000.

In Boone County alone there are about 1,500 children currently enrolled in the Buddy Pack program, and the food bank only expects that number to grow in the coming school year. The 2011-2012 school year saw enrollment in the program increase across mid-Missouri by 2,000 children.

 Kincade also said that a large donation from the MU Greek community will go towards the Buddy Pack program.  She said the Greek members raised over 10,000 pounds of food that they donated to the food bank. Much of what was donated was "kid-friendly" she said. This includes items such as peanut butter, which is expensive for the food bank to buy on its own.

The Buddy Pack program does not run through the summer, as packs are distributed at the schools. But Kincade said there is a summer program the food bank runs to help needy children. She said she estimates there will be around 25 established spots for children to pick-up food.

"We're still making a tremendous effort to raise more funds for the school year when it starts up again in August," Kincade said. 

There are 8,600 children in the Buddy Program for the 2011-2012 school year. Since 2000 of them have been adopted so quickly, Kincade said she's not as worried about the next coming school year.

"We have a ways to go, but we've got a plan in place. And with the support of people in our community, which are so giving, we're pretty confident we'll have a very good response at the end."