Buddy Pack program helps feed students over holiday breaks

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FULTON – The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri is looking to help stop childhood hunger of the holidays.

The Food Bank hosts the Buddy Pack program, which provides food for students who qualify for free and/or reduced lunch or are deemed to be food insecure. The executive director of the food bank, Lindsay Lopez, said the program helps in nearly three dozen counties.

“One in every five children who lives right here in this community, throughout the 32 counties that we serve and throughout the state of Missouri falls into that category, they truly are food insecure,” Lopez said.

For participating schools, the Buddy Packs are typically handed out on Friday or the day before the weekend starts.

The program is designed to give those students who rely on free or reduced-price lunches nutritious food for the weekend. According to sharefoodbringhope.org, each Buddy Pack has two entrees, a fruit cup, cereal, shelf-stable milk and a nutritional bar. There are roughly 7,500 Buddy Packs given out each week.

As the holidays roll around, the Food Bank will hand out extra packs of food before the break starts.

Bartley Elementary participates in the Buddy Pack program and officials said they have noticed the importance they have.

“Many kids are anxious to get their buddy packs is a signal that it’s much needed,” Principal Connie Epperson said.

She said students have made it clear just how much the program means to them.

“We’ve had kids mention ‘I can’t miss tomorrow because it’s Buddy Pack day,’” Epperson said.

The Food Bank currently has the Buddy Pack program set up with more than 150 elementary and middle schools.

Lopez said she is proud of the program. 

“It’s really rewarding knowing that the work we are doing is touching so many lives, particularly during the holiday season,” Lopez said.

The Food Bank is also running a donation drive that would benefit the Prettis County Buddy Pack Program. It will match up to $1,500 and the goal is currently $3,000.