Courtesy of CSJ
CSJ student Elizabeth Turco assembles packages of kid-friendly, nonperishable food for the BackPack Program at the Vermont Foodbank.
RUTLAND—National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness week might still be two months away, but students in College of St. Joseph’s Provider Program aren’t waiting to do their part to stop hunger.
Each Wednesday, as part of their 15 hours of community engagement each semester, a group of students spends the morning at the Vermont Foodbank distribution facility in Rutland. Provider Scholars have spent most of their time at the Foodbank the last several weeks assembling packages of kid-friendly, nonperishable food for the BackPack Program.
The Vermont Foodbank–a nonprofit organization whose “core function is to provide fresh produce, shelf-stable food, and prepared meals”–is part of a network of more than 200 food shelves and meal sites that serves 153,000 Vermonters each year. The organization also distributes food through youth-centered programs such as the BackPack Program.
“All school-aged children today have one thing in common: the ever-present backpack. For most kids, a backpack might contain books and other school supplies,” reads the organization’s website. “For children participating in the BackPack Program, it means much more: a weekend with a full belly.”
“Provider Program Scholars have had the tremendous opportunity to engage weekly at the Vermont Foodbank distribution center, helping pack food for the local school’s BackPack program, sorting food, and other food distribution related activities,” said Meggan Lloyd, community engagement coordinator at CSJ.
While their time at the Foodbank is limited, Provider Scholars help alleviate some of the burden of packaging the approximately 123,000 pounds served by the Vermont Foodbank each year for children in need. Students from Northeast and Northwest elementary schools are just some of the 1,000 students who receive “backpacks” each week.
“As one in seven individuals living in Vermont struggles with food insecurity, our scholars are doing their part to address these issues, and help provide access to the food these individuals and families need,” Lloyd said. “We are blessed to have this partnership with the Foodbank, and are grateful for the chance to work alongside them in their efforts to tackle hunger.”