The Community Food Pantry of Grundy County in Trenton provides a supplemental weekend feeding program for children during the school year. Backpack Buddies is made possible with food that comes from the Second Harvest Community Food Bank in Saint Joseph.
In a recent interview with KTTN’s John Anthony, Spokesperson Ginny Wikoff said the program is provided to elementary school-aged children in Grundy County who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Food is also provided for their younger siblings at home.
Wikoff noted Second Harvest set the limit at 100 students this year. She acknowledged that the need is greater than the number who qualify for the free and reduced-price lunches, but Backpack Buddies cannot pay for all of the children who qualify.
The program leaves it up to the schools to prioritize who gets the food. Who receives the food is kept confidential, and Wikoff does not know who gets it. Parents must sign permission slips for children to participate.
The meals are based on the United States Department of Agriculture’s “My Plate” program, which Wikoff explained means the meals have to be balanced.
Wikoff provided a statistic that about one in four Grundy County children is considered food insecure.
Wikoff also reported that research shows students perform at a higher rate, learn more, and retain information longer when they have proper nutrition, including protein.
The cost per student for Backpack Buddies has increased by $24 this school year to $199. That means $19,900 has to be raised to support this year’s participants.
Wikoff said churches, civic groups, and individuals donate to the program.
Some groups hold fundraisers on behalf of Backpack Buddies.
Wikoff mentioned donations can be made at any rate or pace. Someone can divide the $199 for a student into multiple donations. Donations qualify to be tax deductible.
Donations can be made by checks payable to the Community Food Pantry with Backpack Buddies written on the memo line. Cash or cashier’s checks are also accepted.
Donations can be mailed to the Community Food Pantry at 1703 Harris Avenue in Trenton, Missouri 64683. They can also be dropped off in the mail slot at the food pantry or given to Wikoff.
Donations can also be made by credit card on the Second Harvest Community Food Bank website. Anyone making a donation that way should specify it is for the Grundy County Backpack Buddies.
More information on Backpack Buddies can be obtained by calling the Community Food Pantry at 660-359-7099 or Wikoff at 660-635-0317.