Free school breakfasts and lunches help eligible students during the week. Blessings in Backpacks takes it a step further and provides students with bags of food to take home on Friday. Our Alana LaFlore explains how the program gives students support to perform well in school.
ROME, N.Y. -- Many kids can't wait for dismissal on Friday afternoons. Unfortunately for some students the weekend means going without much food.
But now fifty children at Gansevoort Elementary School in Rome are receiving full backpacks to fill their stomachs.
"We do have a lot of children in our own community that don't get enough to eat from their families that rely on the Welcome Hall and other food pantries," said Kathy Bragan, Gansevoort Elementary School Principal. "And unfortunately, if those places don't have provisions when their families visit sometimes they go without food."
It's a partnership between the First Presbyterian Church in Rome and the Rome City School District. Church volunteers pack the food they buy through a corporate partnership and then the school picks up the bags.
"We have a suggested list of menu items that are easy to prepare and easy to eat," said Sam Pendergrast, Pastor at First Presbyterian Church. "We provide a couple of breakfast items, some soup. It's about five menu items per weekend."
That's enough for two hot meals and some snacks on Saturday and Sunday. The school says giving children food to take home gives them a better shot at performing well in school.
"Children that are hungry and that aren't getting proper nutrition at home can't concentrate as well on their academics as children that are having nutritious food," said Bragan.
The school says the backpacks also teach lessons of good character, like how to give back and how to be thankful.
"They're very grateful for that they receive. We actually had some parents that cried when we contacted them that they were so grateful to receive the food packages over the weekend," said Bragan.
The church says they plan to continue the program next school year.