Local program serves hungry school children

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One of our own Lady’s Island churches, Seaside Vineyard Fellowship, also known as “Seaside,” has been feeding hungry children for almost five years. In fact, the group recently packed more than 1,600 bags of healthy, kid-friendly food for northern Beaufort County school children as part of the Backpack Buddy Program. These include single servings of food that can be opened by a child and eaten immediately without needing an adult to prepare it.
Many people know that children receive free or reduced cost lunches at school, but over the weekends many children have little or no food to eat at home. They must wait until Monday to eat again. The motto of the program is Because hunger doesn’t take the weekend off.
Eligibility for free or low cost lunches or breakfast does not automatically qualify a child for the Backpack Buddy Program. These children must be identified by school nurses and social workers as suffering from the results of child hunger:  chronic stomachs, learning and academic problems, compromised resistance to illnesses like colds, ear infections, fatigue, headaches; and associated behavioral and psychological problems. It is estimated that one in four Lowcountry children have hunger- related problems.
Locally, Backpack Buddies serves eight elementary schools north of the Broad River including Lady’s Island, Beaufort, Broad River, Davis, Whale Branch, Shanklin, Shell Point and St. Helena Elementary. It is entirely supported by the Lowcountry Food Bank and local donations and grants.
Nationwide there are more than 130 Backpack Buddy Programs in 40 states, all managed at the local level. The Beaufort program began in August 2007 and is about to complete its fifth year. Food is delivered by the Lowcountry Food Bank, packed and coordinated by Seaside Vineyard, and delivered to the schools by Sodexo.
The packing of food is often assisted by local volunteer groups such as the Cub Scouts, Pack 1712, Den 2 led by David Felzer and Randy Horn.
To learn more about the Backpack Buddy Program or make a donation of time or food, contact Heidi Walker at (843) 252-9146 or (843)-524-7168.