Meeting a need

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Weekend Food program to feed at-risk students

Coordinator Janet Cavin and volunteers from Balwin County organize food items into brown bags to provide 40 students with a small meal for the weekend.
Midway Elementary School YES Education Coordinator Lisa Koehler, Baldwin County Family Connection Coordinator Janet Cavin and Midway Principal Antonio Ingram help organize food items into brown bags to provide 40 students with a small meal for the weekend during the pilot food program’s kick off in February.

MILLEDGEVILLE — Baldwin County Family Connection (BCFC) is expanding its mission to keep the stomachs of underprivileged students full on weekends with the help of a local organization and churches.

“Family Connection has been involved in the childhood obesity problem in our county for a while,” said Janet Cavin, BCFC coordinator. “Children on the other end of the spectrum are children who aren’t getting enough nutritious meals. Students come to school on Monday very hungry because they didn’t have enough to eat over the weekend.”

Using a $1,500 grant awarded by Tri-County EMC in December, BCFC kicked off the pilot weekend food program in February, feeding 40 Midway Elementary School students for 15 weeks. After realizing the need and impact of the food program, Communities In Schools of Milledgeville-Baldwin County (CISMBC), First Baptist Church and First United Methodist Church are collaborating with BCFC to provide donations toward the program in the coming school year.

“We have a little bit of start-up money, but both churches are going to offer either financial donations or food for the brown paper bags, which we call ‘Blessing Bags.’ We hope to get the program formalized so other community groups and churches can take another school and we can provide information packets about the program and how they can help,” Cavin said. “Eventually, we would like to have the program at every school for as many children who need food throughout the county, but we have to have money and volunteers behind [the program] to make it happen. We’re talking at least 1,000 children who can benefit from this program every weekend in our county.”

With the new partnerships, BCFC will be able to serve 50 Midway Elementary students and an additional 50 students at Eagle Ridge Elementary this academic year.

“[CISMBC] will help determine which children are the most needy in our county schools. We have a lot of children that are technically homeless and their families are really on the edge, and other families who are struggling to make ends meet,” Cavin said. “Kids who have proper nutrition do better in school, have less discipline problems, and it’s one of the ways we can help children graduate from school.”

The weekend food program is slated to begin Friday, Aug. 16.

“We will have volunteers at the churches willing to pack the bags and deliver the bags to the schools, and the schools will place the bags in students’ backpacks Friday afternoon,” Cavin said. “We would love to have additional partners so we can go into more schools.”

The “Blessing Bags” will include nonperishable foods like fruit cups, juice boxes, crackers, cereal, Pop-Tarts or a can of ravioli. One brown bag of food costs around $2.50.

“One of the beauties of our county is we do have nonprofit organizations, businesses and churches who are willing to work together; that’s what it’s going to take,” Cavin said. “When we see the need and we focus on working together, we’ll be able to feed many children and local families.”

For more information about the weekend food program, to donate funds or contribute food items, call either church or call Cavin at 478-457-2000.

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