SALISBURY TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT
Jessica Schwartz, program director, Lehigh Valley Blessings in a Backpack, gave a presentation to the operations committee of the Salisbury Township School District April 1 at the administration building.
The program, started in 2015, educates and empowers individuals and businesses to volunteer to help fight childhood hunger.
Blessings in a Backpack services over 100 students in the Lehigh Valley; 59 of those students attend Harry S Truman Elementary School.
Every Friday during the school year, students receive a bag of nutritious food including two entrees, two breakfast items and at least three snacks.
“The program focuses on elementary age students because it is the most likely age that they would not be able to make or get food on their own,” Schwartz said.”
The determination of enrollment in the program is based on the students eligible for the federal free and reduced lunch program. Those students are the most likely to suffer from food insecurity which means that they are unsure when their next meal will be.”
Schwartz said the food is given out on Friday because many times students who are food insecure rely heavily or solely on school breakfast and lunch. This food helps to bridge the food gap between Friday and Monday.
Committee members learned the items provided are shelf stable products and the bags are given to the students on Friday in the cafeteria after breakfast and put into their backpacks.
In 2018 at HST, there were 236 students eligible for the federal free and reduced meal program which is about 54 percent of the student body. Western Salisbury Elementary School has about 53 students eligible for the program which is about 20 percent.
Schwartz said there are a number of ways community members can help and donations are gladly accepted.
Food donations of specific menu items are welcome. If a community member, group or place of business is interested in holding a food drive and packing event, contact Schwartz at 610-657-1374 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can provide a specific menu of items and detailed instructions on how to host a packing event.
Monetary donations to Blessings in a Backpack of the Lehigh Valley can be made online or via mail by visiting http://www.blessingsinabackpack.org; select donate to a specific school and write in “Harry S Truman Allentown PA” under designation. Lastly, checks written out to “Blessings in a Backpack” can be mailed to: Blessings in a Backpack LV, P.O. Box 223, Coopersburg, 18036.
The committee thanked Schwartz and Guidance Counselor Cyndee Hill-Boddie for bringing Blessings in a Backpack to Salisbury.