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‘˜Fill That Bus’ to feed local students

Last year, local citizens worked together to ensure that students in need were getting proper nutrition on weekends and school holidays. The Pike County Back Pack Program was delivered to 50 children each week and provided a total of 12,300 weekend meals during the school year. The new school year starts Aug. 8 and delivery for the Pike County Backpack Program will start Aug. 16. A bus for donations will be parked at the Ninth Grade Academy and open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 15-19. It will be at Freshway from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 20. ’This year, the number one program need is funds. The cost of the program for its first year was $14,500,’ said Cox. ‘The Backpack Program touches so many lives and provides much needed meals for local students. Please help us pack the buses at Freshway and the Ninth Grade Academy with food items and funds to keep this program going!’ This year, organizers are asking that members of the public help purchase the items needed to keep local kids fed during school breaks. Two school buses will be parked at the Ninth Grade Academy and also at Freshway Market in Zebulon for donations. Items requested include Jif To Go Creamy Peanut Butter, fruit cups, individual cereal servings, Compleats microwavable meals and Tuna Salad kits (see graphic on page 3A). Monetary donations can be made at ’This is a partnership between the community and the Pike County School System. The school counselors carefully select children in need and coordinate participation with the children’s parents. The school system also discreetly distributed the meals,’ said program organizer Mike Cox. ‘The program program provided 2,050 bags of food to the children the first year. The quality and quantity of food was carefully selected to provide items that children would eat and that would provide them with good nutrition. One of the principle philosophies was that all bags would be packed equally. That philosophy was important, so that the children did not see some bags as being better than others.’ The program provides children with six meals for Saturday and Sunday. Bags are packed with two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, two snacks and a juice. Occasionally, fruit and special treats are included. The children receive a bag weekly, including holiday weeks. The bags averaged 8 pounds and cost about $7 each. The first year of the program was powered by community churches including Christ Chapel Community Church, First Baptist Church of Zebulon, Mt. Gilead Baptist Church and Pike County Assembly of God, Civic organizations such as Collier’s Community Services Inc. and Pike County Family Connection. The program is a volunteer-based, community-supported ministry. More than 65 people contributed to the program’s success in the first year. The volunteers were grouped into six major teams. The teams completed activities required to create meal menus, shop for food, pack food bags, deliver food bags, track inventory and raise money. For more information, contact Mike Cox at 770-755-0134 or to learn more.

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