BY KAREN CAMPBELL
Weakley County Schools Communications Director
WEAKLEY COUNTY (September 1) – Two nutrition-based initiatives are ready to ensure that food is on the table for Weakley County families in need.
The Weakley County Backpack Program will once again provide weekend food supplies for families who participate in the discounted or free lunch program. The decade-old outreach is returning in full force after adjusting its activities last year due to COVID protocols.
“As a nonprofit, we are committed to using 100 percent of funds donated to the program for the purchase of food for students in need in Weakley County,” emphasized Colin Johnson, the president of the organization.
“Last year, we had to get creative, utilizing frozen meals and asking parents to come to the schools. This year we are excited to return to delivering to the schools so that staff there can get the items to the children.”
Backpack volunteers are needed to help pack food bags on the first Tuesday of every month at noon at Dresden First Baptist Church Family Life Center. Dates this year are: October 5, November 2, December 6, January 4, February 1, March 1, and April 5.
Approximately 325 boxes of food items are prepared for transport to the schools, and then students receive the needed staples on Friday.
All recipients’ names are kept confidential. New this year is the provision of meals for the Head Start programs in the county. Nearly 70 of these younger children will receive the weekend supplies.
The Weakley County Schools Food Pantry was established last year after Second Harvest, the source for foods for the Backpack Program, indicated they wanted to expand their efforts.
“The Backpack Program provides easy-to-open items that can be prepared without parental help. The Panty includes ingredients for complete meals for families and require more preparation,” explained Bethany Allen, Weakley County Coordinated School Health Director, who, along with assistant Kathy Dodson, oversees the effort.
Recipients of the Pantry items include Weakley County Schools students’ families or staff in need of food.
“Due to Second Harvest generosity, we have a lot of food to give away each month. Families, staff, and faculty can come pick it up, or we will deliver to the school for pick up,” she noted. The pantry is located at the Professional Development Center, 8250 Hwy. 22, Dresden.