Volunteers assemble buddy packs for hungry kids

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COLUMBIA - The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri hosted a Buddy Pack assembly event for volunteers Tuesday.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., joined state lawmakers, Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Boone and Cooper and Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Boone and Randolph, along with 15 volunteers to make 288 packages.

Buddy Packs are bundles of non-perishable food given to children in need. They are distributed to school aged children in grades K-12.

Executive Director Lindsay Young Lopez said the packs are "discretely placed" in the children's back packs on Fridays, so they can have food over the weekend.  

"With the Buddy Pack program,certainly the initial goal is that we feed children who are hungry," Lopez said. "Hopefully we'll be able to help children do a better job in school." 

Lopez said students were sent home with extra packs to last them over the winter break. 

According to Lopez, 52 percent of the children in the food bank's service area qualify for free or reduced lunch.

"Those are staggering figures," Lopez said. 

The food bank serves 32 counties in the central and northeast Missouri region feeding approximately 114,00 people a month, with 7,400 children per week participating in the Buddy Pack program.