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Hands that Serve

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Program ensures children have food on weekends

By Jonna Spelbring Priester

Every Friday, countless children leave school and head home not knowing whether or not they’ll have something to eat over the weekend.In 2007, Eminence Independent Schools began addressing that problem with the Backpack Buddies Program. Until last year, no similar program was available in Henry County Public Schools.
Enter Hands that Serve, Hearts that Care.

Jessica Durrett, who serves at the program’s contact for Eastern Elementary School, said the program began when a fellow member of Pleasureville United Methodist Church brought the idea for a back pack/weekend feeding program to the church’s women’s group.

Each week, the group packs bags of kid-friendly foods, including two entrees, two snacks and two breakfast items.

“We want to make it so the kids can open it,” Durrett said. “Chef Boyardee, macaroni and cheese, Pop Tarts, cereal, and snacks like Rice Krispi Treats, cereal bars, granola bars and fruit cups.”

The program began at Eastern Elementary School last year, and now is also found at Campbellsburg and New Castle Elementary Schools.

“We heard there was a need for this feeding program, (and that it was in counties) all around us,” Durrett said. “We knew we couldn’t do it by ourselves, being a small church, so we took it to our council and took it to other churches asking them to join us.”

About eight other churches joined in a meeting last year.

“All (attendees) were on board, but at different levels,” Durrett said. Some could gather food, some could help pack bags, and some could give donations.

Durrett said the schools pick the children who receive the bags, but does not tell the group who they are.
“Maybe they just need a little boost to get through the weekend,” she said. “We don’t know who the kids are, we just label the bags.”

Durrett said the program’s goal is simple: to make sure children have something to eat over the weekend that supplements what they may already be getting.

The food is packed in bags by area churches, delivered to the schools and then sent home with the children on Friday afternoons.

Durrett said some churches and individuals may not yet be aware of the program. For those that would like to help, they simply need to call the contact person for each school.

Eastern Elementary School: Jessica Durrett; (502) 396-7140; jessadurrett@gmail.com, or Brenda Simpson — (02) 878-4537 or (502) 330-4284; simpson_james@bellsouth.net.

Campbellsburg Elementary School: The Rev. Shawn Golden — (502) 706-0092; fish4him@insightbb.com.

New Castle Elementary School: Brandy Neuman — (502) 845-0101; airportmom@gmail.com.

E-mail us about this article at editor@hclocal.com.