Helping Food Insecure Students in South Lake County, IN
The Beginning of Buddy Bags
Children who are benefiting from free breakfast and lunch at school, are not always so fortunate on the weekends.
Studies show that a hungry student tends to have attention difficulties and slower memory recall. Other studies show that it takes up to two days for a student who has not eaten well over the weekend to regain their mental and physical strength. It is no surprise that suppling these students with supplemental nutrition over the weekend helps with these issues.
Imagine trying to concentrate on your studies when your stomach is grumbling. You are not only hungry, but embarrassed at the thought of your fellow students hearing your stomach. It is hard enough being a child. Worrying about food should not be one of their concerns.
In the summer of 2017 Bonnie Meyer, Director of Missions and Outreach at the Crown Point, IN First United Methodist Church, felt called and determined to help fight food insecurity in her community’s schools. She presented a plan based on a program developed by Pastor Jeff Newton of Kokomo, IN called Buddy Bags. This program provided students that qualified for the Federal Free Lunch Program a bag of food to take home on the last day of the school week. The “Buddy Bag” contained breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for two days.
It took some convincing that the funding for the program could be found, but all the members of the Missions Committee were eager to join the fight against food insecurity. Bonnie relied on Pastor Newton for his wisdom and experience. Finding space in the church to set up operations was a challenge. With a lot of rearranging and help from the church’s building manager, Julie Schulz, the stage in the Fellowship Hall was transformed into Buddy Bag Central. The large, sturdy shelves were ideal for the large quantities of food items needed each week.
Bonnie price-compared local and online vendors. As word spread throughout the church, volunteers were eager to help. With shelves filled and at least one Crown Point School on board, Buddy Bags was ready to launch.
In September of 2017 Buddy Bags were being provided to one hundred thirty-nine students at Mac Arthur Elementary School in Cedar Lake, IN.
What is a Buddy Bag