Sometime Friday, while young children in Carrollton, Mo., are outside their main classrooms, staff members will discreetly slip packs of food into some of their backpacks.
And without anyone else knowing, the students in the town’s two schools that serve kindergartners through fourth-graders will have enough food at home to tide them over the weekend. The schools are becoming the latest to join Harvesters’ BackSnack program.
Education officials in Carrollton have been wanting to join the program for a while now.
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“We’ve been on the waiting list for about three years,” said Stefanie Kissick, a family support advocate for the Carrollton R-VII District. “When they (the parents) saw we were starting this up, they were just elated that we could help them.”
Harvesters delivers the weekly packs of food — which provide two breakfasts, two other meals and snacks — to more than 400 schools, with 12 more on a waiting list. As more packs become available, more schools can be added.
And as more parents struggle, the supplemental food becomes critical, said Cindy Cauble, an elementary counselor for the Carrollton district.
“I’ve had some students literally say they didn’t have many meals over the weekend,” Cauble said. “Or just something minimal. … I think there are a lot of people who are proud and hesitate to ask for help, but we have an amazing community that wants to help however they can.”
Staff members at Carrollton’s schools know that many parents are having a tough time juggling rent and mortgage with utility bills and food. Some have taken in family members and are “finding their finances are just stretched,” Kissick said.
When the two schools learned that Harvesters would be able to add them to the BackSnack program, a committee of faculty met to identify the children and families who would benefit most. Cauble had students list the food and food groups they consumed over a weekend. She took note of the children who had little food or little nutritious food.
“Our teachers know our kids,” said principal Sherry Kaiser, who oversees both schools. “They take a lot of care in taking care of their needs. For those reasons, we become very aware of the kids in need.”
Starting Friday, 25 students at each school will receive the food packs. School officials will let the kids know that they have food in their backpacks so they don’t pull it out and wonder aloud what it is.
“We want to give it to them in a confidential and discreet way,” Kaiser said. “We don’t want other people to be disappointed or sad they didn’t get one. … We’re just so excited our community is able to have this opportunity.”
Feeding KC kids
This holiday season, The Star is again partnering with Harvesters on a virtual food drive to raise money for the area’s hungriest children.
All money goes to Harvesters’ BackSnack program, which provides low-income children with packs of food each Friday to tide them over until they return to school Monday. A $25 donation provides a child BackSnack packs for a month; $250 provides BackSnacks for a year.
If you would like to give, go to feedingkckids.harvestersvfd.org. Or you can send a check to Harvesters, 3801 Topping Ave., Kansas City, MO 64129. You can donate in a loved one’s name, with reader dedications published in The Star’s Christmas edition. The deadline for dedications is 5 p.m. Dec. 21.