Supporting the “Backpack Program” for hungry kids

Members of the SWAT team proudly display their check to the food bank. Left to right, back row, are Bob Grygotis, John Borowitz, and Terry Hughes. Front row are Camille Wrinkle (Harvest Texarkana), Treyana Fielding, Alondria Scott, Tym Grubbs, Kim Horn, and Anna McFarland.

Recently, the Ashdown Mill’s SWAT (Safety Wellness Activities Team) partnered with Harvest Texarkana to ensure 50 children were able to participate in the “Backpack Program” at elementary schools in Ashdown.

Harvest Texarkana is a regional food bank that provides food to more than 100 agencies in southwest Arkansas. Last year alone, the organization distributed over 2.3 million pounds of food in the region.

One way food is distributed is through the “Backpack Program,” which provides a package of kid-friendly, shelf-stable, self-serve foods to children identified by their school as ‘chronically hungry.’ These children qualify for federal free school breakfast and lunch and the school staff has reason to believe that these meals may be the only regular meals the children receive.

With parental permission, volunteers prepare a bag for each child with enough food to get the student through the weekend. The bags are delivered to their campuses on Thursdays. The following day, while the children are out of the classroom, the packages are discretely placed in their backpacks. Harvest Texarkana even provides the backpack if necessary. Additional food is provided before school holidays and breaks.

To assist this great cause, the SWAT team organized an initiative providing all mill employees the opportunity to take part. Backpacks were on display in the main clock alley for individuals, crews, or departments to “adopt”. Once adopted, employees collected $100 for each backpack to cover the cost for one child’s backpack food supply for an entire school year. In addition, when the backpacks were returned with the money, they were also filled with nonperishable food items for the food bank.

The drive ended with $5,220.50 collected to support the program. Once again, the Ashdown Mill team showed how easy it can be to make a big difference in the local community when you pull together for a great cause!