Helping Hungry Students

By Susan Black

One Friday afternoon, a fourth-grader in upstate New York’s rural Yates County boarded his school bus for the ride home, a backpack slung over each shoulder.

One pack held his books and homework. The other pack was stuffed with small boxes of raisins, cups of applesauce, packets of oatmeal, packaged tuna and chicken, peanut butter, and easy-to-open, microwave-ready soup.

Earlier that week, volunteers from Milly’s Pantry, a nonprofit organization that works with Foodlink and Feeding America, a nationwide program that supplies emergency food to school children and their families, filled more than 500 backpacks, some in a church hall and others in a village youth center. The backpacks were delivered to two school districts, some 20 miles apart.

The backpacks, says George Schaeffer, Milly’s Pantry’s president, help ensure that “food insecure” children have full tummies over weekends and school holidays. The program, he adds, is a “grassroots model” that strives to eliminate the “footprint of poverty” at the local level.

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