Waynesville Rotary Club Foundation funds summer food pack program

Aug 09, 2013

Summer can be a time of hunger for many Western North Carolina children; over half of Haywood County’s school children receive free or reduced lunch. During the summer months many of these children live without the security of knowing where their next meal will come from. Thanks to the generosity of the Waynesville County Rotary Club Foundation, 107 children facing hunger will get a bag of nutritious food every week.

Waynesville Rotary Club Foundation created Help Haywood’s Hungry Kids and partnered with the MANNA Pack for Kids Program to ensure that every child in Haywood County who qualifies for a MANNA Foodbank Backpack receives one. The program, which runs during the school year, provides each child in need with a package of food to take home every Friday to help make it through the weekend.

The program was a great success, and the Rotary Foundation raised enough money to fund expansion of the entire program for Haywood County. In the 2011-12 school year, an average of 267 students in eight schools in Haywood County took a MANNA Pack home every Friday. In the 2012 school year, the program grew almost 50 percent; Help Haywood Hungry Kids program allowed MANNA to get packs to 387 students in 13 schools.

A staff member at a participating Haywood County School said, “Without this program students would go hungry. I had a senior boy tell me that this was the first time that he was not hungry on the weekends. Thank you!”

The growing number of children participating in the program showed a clear need in the community, and the Waynesville Rotary Club Foundation was able to designate funds for a summer backpack program. Currently, Clyde Elementary School and Jonathan Valley Elementary School have summer food packs available to children in need in those communities. Meadowbrook Elementary, a year-round school, also has food packs available because of the summer food program.  A typical pack contains items such as milk, pasta and pasta sauce, peanut butter and seasonal fruits and vegetables.

“We are so grateful for our partnership with the Haywood Rotary Clubs and their refusal to accept hunger for the children in Haywood County. Their dedication and efforts have made a huge impact,” said Donna Ensley, chief development officer for MANNA FoodBank.

The latest data from Map the Meal Gap indicates that 28.2 percent or approximately 3,240 children in Haywood County are food insecure. That means those children live in households facing difficulty meeting basic food needs.

A $128 donation will support one child for an entire year in the backpack program, but all donations of any amount are accepted. All donations to Help Haywood’s Hungry Kids are tax-deductable and checks can be made out to the Waynesville Rotary Foundation, P.O. Box 988, Waynesville, NC 28786.