Apollo-area churches to provide weekend meals, snacks to local students
Some Apollo-Ridge students later this month will have backpacks brimming with healthy meals and snacks for weekends thanks to a new program launched by Apollo-area churches.
Food 4 Kinds will deliver its first food bags to the school on Oct. 26.
Apollo area churches initiated the program, approaching the school district earlier this year. It’s unknown how many families will eventually sign up for the program.
“I am happy to know our community is here to support our kids, regardless,” said Courtney Anderson, principal of Apollo-Ridge Elementary in the Spring Church section of Kiski Township.
Anderson said she is not aware of kids at her school going hungry on weekends.
About 27 families have signed up for the program so far, said Candy George, 69, of Kiski Township, a volunteer from Apollo United Presbyterian Church, who is leading the effort. George expects up to 100 students might be interested.
A retired secretary from Burrell School District, George got the idea from Burrell, which had a similar program.
About seven churches and 30 community volunteers are participating in Food 4 Kids.
It costs about $3 per child per week for a nonperishable food package for the weekend, George said. The churches have held multiple food drives while organizations and individuals have donated money to pay for more food. George hopes the fundraising stays brisk throughout the school year.
Sending school kids home with healthy food for the weekend has been a trend across the country. Locally, weekend food programs have been or are offered to students in the New Kensington-Arnold School District, Burrell, Franklin Regional and others.
The popularity of the programs is due to the number of children who could use more and healthier food when they are not at school. In 2017, more than 6 million children across America lived in food-insecure households, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
For more than 15 years, the national Feeding America BackPack program has been providing nutritious food for students “to get enough to eat on the weekends.”
The income of students and their families are not a criteria to be in the Food 4 Kids program, Anderson added.
Food 4 Kids is targeted to about 300 students from kindergarten through the second grade.
Each weekend food package contains six to eight items for a couple of meals a day, dessert and snacks. The meals are as healthy as possible including pasta cups, apple sauce, cups of fruit, pudding, crackers with peanut butter and more. They can’t put too much in packages, which would weigh the bags down.
“They are just little tykes,” George said.
The school sent letters to the parents of the students who can decide if their kids need the extra food. The churches will deliver the packages on Thursdays to the school. Teachers will then discreetly stow the packages away in the backpacks of students who join the program.
More information on the program is available here or by calling 724-478-4807.