July 22, 2014 10:05:39 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
A local church group is hoping to feed 40 elementary students who would otherwise go without meals on the weekends.
During Monday night's meeting of the Columbus Municipal School Board, representatives from First United Methodist Church informed the board of their intentions to start a Food Backpack Program.
According to church member Lee Burdine, the church has enough funds on hands to send four ready-to-eat meals home with 40 school children over the weekend. The church hopes to feed children from Franklin Academy.
According to CMSD federal programs department, up to 95 percent of the district's children qualify for free or reduced lunch.
The local program would be part of a larger initiative with the Mississippi Food Network along with a national Backpack program through Feeding America.
Describing their effort as a modest hunger program, Burdine said, "This program has proved very successful through the state of Mississippi and through multiple school districts across the nation."
A package would be sent home with children who have been identified by the district. The package would contain four meals that the children could eat over the weekend, Burdine said. The cost of the program runs approximately $175 a year per student, he said.
While the effort is a nationwide collaboration, Burdine said First Methodist would be responsible for packaging and delivering the meals.
"We're a downtown church and we're located about three blocks from Franklin Academy so we will be able to order the packs, keep them there and work with Franklin Academy," he said.
Burdine said he would update the board as the program nears the anticipated Sept. 12 start date. The program would run for 32 Fridays.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.