Ferndale Blessings in a Backpack Helps Keep Students Nourished
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Ferndale, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak Township, MI- Who will feed the kids this weekend?
The struggle is real. Every single day, children all over the world go hungry, and it also happens right here in our community. Many of these children are lucky to receive breakfast and lunch at school, but what about dinner? What about the weekends? Blessings in a Backpack-Ferndale steps in to help fill in the gaps for the weekends.
Blessings in a Backpack is offered nationwide, but we have a local chapter that services students in Ferndale Public Schools. It costs $100 to feed a child for the entire school year. We also send home extra food on long weekends and breaks. Right now, the program is being implemented from pre-school through middle school and feeds 250 children each weekend. We hope to continue to raise enough funds to serve University High School and Ferndale High School within the next two years and the overall goal is to help feed all qualified student attending Ferndale Public Schools.
The program operates primarily on monetary donations, but we always welcome food donations to supplement the bags. The food items which go into bags include juice boxes, canned soups, nut free granola bars, oatmeal, mac n cheese, canned tuna, canned chicken, cereal, canned pineapple, ramen noodles, Slim Jims, and even pudding!
While chairperson, Lindsay Gonska, would like to see a transition to fresh food items, it can be a struggle getting those items home and intact! “Most fruits end up bruised or smashed in bags with munchkins on their way home. At this time, we are keeping it to non-perishable goods. I am always open to suggestions though!”
Food is purchased through Meijer at the reduced cost of 6 meals for $2.50. Once a month, a Ferndale box truck picks up the pallets of food and delivers them to Life Skills Village on 9 Mile. This is the location where bags are packed every week during the school year. This process is led by Aimee Szabo. Once the bags are packed, they are placed in bins, which were donated by SOCRRA, and delivered to FECC, Lower, FUEL and FMS where teacher leads, adult volunteers and even student volunteers help deliver the bags to classrooms and lockers for the children to bring home. It takes a village and so does this program!
While Blessings in a Backpack-Ferndale operates during the school year, what do children and their families do without this program during the summer? Each year, in June, we put flyers in bags directing families to places to call or attend to help support them with other resources during the summer months.
Members of the steering committee of Blessings in a Backpack-Ferndale are teacher Lindsay Gonska, her mom Lucy Kulpa, teachers Laura Piacentini, Lynne Dallmann, D’Anne McNeil, Elaine Zold, and community members Jen Seiler, Kristen Boura, and Aimee Szabo. This committee is assisted by Cheryl Whitton, Blessings in a Backpack-MI Advisor.
If you are interested in getting involved or have any questions, please email Lindsay Gonska at Lindsay.firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in more information or making a donation, please visit http://www.blessingsinabackpackmi.org/ferndale/