Outreach gets $5,000 Recession Response grant

Published 3:09 pm Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thermal Belt Outreach Ministry received one of 52 grants awarded last week through the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina&squo;s Recession Response Fund.

Outreach will receive $5,000 to purchase nutritious food for its Feed-a-Kid backpack program.&bsp; The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina awarded a total of $297,448 in Recession Response grants.

Because of the current recession, Outreach has said it needs more donations to sustain the Feed-a-Kid program, which ensures that children have food during the weekends and school breaks.

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The program began last year with weekend food supplies for 73 children, and quickly grew after a few weeks to provide food during non-school times for 90 students. When this school year began in August, 95 children were being helped, but because of the economy, local layoffs and the high unemployment rate in Polk County, the number of children in the program has greatly increased. Last month the program was providing food to 170 children and the number seems to grow each week, say program organizers.

The children that participate in the program are from families who qualify for the federal free/reduced meal program and other children who have been identified by teachers, counselors and principals as &dquo;nutritionally at risk.&dquo;

For many students in the program, the meals provided at school are their primary source of food, say program organizers. Following lunch at school on Friday, they may not have a substantial meal again until breakfast at school on Monday. School officials say that situation&bsp; results in both nutritional and learning deficiencies, noting how hard it is for students to focus on school work when they are hungry.

Each week, volunteers pack, deliver and distribute packages filled with enough non-perishable food to last for the weekend. Because the need is so great, Outreach plans to continue the program throughout the year, including summer weekends.

If you have questions or want additional information, call Lora Morgan, Feed-A-Kid Coordinator at 894-2988 or your may send donations to Thermal Belt Outreach, PO Box 834, Columbus, N.C. 28722.