Boys & Girls Club Feeds Hungry Kids
The Boys & Girls Club of Richland County piloted a back pack food program at the end of the 2015-2016 school year that identified students K-5th grade that may need food assistance over the weekends. The pilot had 29 participants and was such a success that in January of this year, the Club started an anti-hunger initiative that intends for the Back Pack Program to become permanent for Richland County. Through partnership with Montana Food Bank Network and many other local donors, the Club is able to offer this program. In this program students receive a bag full of child-friendly, healthy food options at the end of each week during the school year. These participants are referred into the program via teachers and families. "Parents have an option to opt out, but the need is great in our community to provide this kind of support to kids. The number of children participating has increased 60% from last year," says Elaine Stedman, CEO.
The Club has been fortunate to have Ian Walker, AmeriCorps volunteer, here to assist in the growth of this initiative. In preparing for the week's deliveries, Ian tracks the food, the number of participants, corrects any issues and makes sure the fresh element is there. These bags contain two breakfasts, two entrees, two snacks, shelf-stable milk, and juice. However, as a large part of this healthy initiative, Boys & Girls Club requires a fresh healthy element as well. Thanks to Sidney Public Schools, Town Pump Charitable, Oneok, ShopKo Foundation and many other donors, we have the added capacity to purchase fresh fruit or vegetables to put into the bags. Occasionally, personal health care items like toothbrushes or toothpaste get added to the bag. The stuffed bags are discreetly distributed to the students from the Club by teachers or school staff and are free to any student enrolled in the program.
The Boys & Girls Club is currently serving 46 students across Central and West Side Elementary Schools in Sidney in this program. This number increases every week as the Club gets more referrals and works to partner with other schools within Richland County.
If you would like more information about this program or other Club programs, please visit our website at http://www.richlandbgc.org, or call us at 406-433-6763.