CANTON - A new program at Canton Centrals Banford Elementary School is helping children who might not be getting enough food to eat during weekends and school vacations.
The Golden Bear Packs program was launched in February when 25 children were provided with nutritious food for the winter break.
Program Coordinator Kristen C. Whittier said the goal is to start stocking up food so that it can be distributed on a weekly basis beginning next fall when students return to start a new school year.
Its a totally volunteer and donor driven program, Mrs. Whittier said, noting that all food and money donations will go directly to students in need.
The plan is to send packs of food home with participating students each Friday. The packs will contain nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack options along with fresh fruit and other available items.
Banford School Counselor Kelley F. Glasgow said many families are struggling with food insecurity and rely on the schools cafeteria to provide their children with nutritious food.
More than one third of Canton Central students are eligible for free or reduced price breakfast, Mrs. Glasgow said. Families rely on these resources to keep their children healthy and well nourished.
She said some families run short toward the end of the week or end of the month.
Its not that they dont have any food in their pantry, its that they may not have enough, Mrs. Glasgow said.
Other area school districts offer similar programs, including Potsdam, Massena and South Jefferson Central School in Jefferson County.
The program is a community effort that also involves The Canton Golden Bear Educational Foundation and the Canton Neighborhood Center which has donated food and information to the program.
Mrs. Whittier said the food project is a natural fit with the foundations mission to enhance the academic performance of Canton students.
Organizers hope to send home 42 packs of food for both the upcoming spring break and for the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
For a complete list of desired food items, visit the programs website at www.gbfound.org. Monetary donations will be used to buy fresh fruit and vegetables and fill in where food donations fall short.
Monetary donations are tax deductible and may be sent to the Canton Golden Bear Education Foundation, Attn: Golden Bear Packs, PO Box 174, Canton, N.Y. 13617
Community members can donate money or food to the program by dropping them off at the Banford school office.
For information on enrolling students, contact Mrs. Glasgow at 386-8561, ext. 218, or email: email@example.com. For information on volunteering, food or monetary donations, visit the Golden Bear Packs website at www.gbfound.org or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.