For a Good Cause

Wiscasset backpack program considered

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Monday, February 25, 2013 - 8:30am
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Feed Our Scholars representative Nancy Roby presents the backpack program to the Wiscasset Lions Club at its meeting Wednesday evening. CHARLOTTE BOYNTON/Wiscasset Newspaper
Feed Our Scholars representative Nancy Roby presents the backpack program to the Wiscasset Lions Club at its meeting February 20. CHARLOTTE BOYNTON/Wiscasset Newspaper

Wiscasset’s Lions Club will consider supporting a backpack program being organized to provide children who are living with food insecurity with meals on the weekend when they are not in school.

Nancy Roby, a volunteer working to develop “Feed Our Scholars” for Wiscasset talked to Lions Club members at their meeting February 20.

Roby detailed the number of children who rely on school lunches for their most nutritious meal of the day. About 50 percent of Wiscasset’s students receive free and or reduced lunches at school.

The plan is that each Friday afternoon during the school year, the students who are in need of help would be discreetly and confidentially provided a food-filled backpack to take home.

The program would ensure each child has something to eat over the weekend. Backpack programs have been shown to increase school attendance, a decrease in behavioral problems and improved concentration abilities of students, according to Roby.  

In order to get the program started in Wiscasset, the committee promoting the “Feed Our Scholars” must raise $10,000. The Good Shepherd Food Bank will provide a local school with 40 backpacks  every Friday for an entire school year for $10,000.

Roby’s goal is to raise $5,000 the first half of this year, which will allow the program to get started this fall, and the other $5,000 before January of 2014, to complete the school year.

“Big Al's of Wiscasset has provided several of the needed backpacks, at a low-to-nothing cost,” Roby said. “We are going to start out with 40 students to begin with.”

For $250 a year per student, the Good Shepherd Food Bank will provide at least one source of grain, fruit, vegetables and protein through a variety of staple meal items, breakfast foods, and healthy snacks each week of the school year.  

The members of St Philip’s Episcopal Church, the Congregational Church and other volunteers are working to raise the funds necessary to get the program started. Other municipalities running a backpack program include Gardiner, Bristol, Saco and Portland.

Donations to the program can be mailed to “Feed Our Scholars” in care of St. Philips Episcopal Church, 12 Hodge Street, Wiscasset, ME 04578, online at http://www.active.com/donate/feedourscholars, or by telephone at 207-882-7184.

The “Feed our Scholars” program is part of a not-for-profit 501(c) (3); all donations are tax deductible. A donor can sponsor a child for a school year for $250; a child for half a year for $125, or a child for a month for $25.

The group is also looking for people willing to volunteer an hour a week delivering the food to the schools, and a volunteer to help raise funds for the program. The inmates at the Two Bridges Regional Jail have volunteered to fill the backpacks.

To help raise funds, the following events are being planned: On Saturday, April 6 at 5 p.m. a Spaghetti Supper/Silent Auction event is planned at St. Philip’s Church, The cost is $8 for adults and $4 for children under age 12.  

After having the spaghetti dinner, take the opportunity to burn off some of those calories by signing up for the 5K Family Fun Run/Walk on the Wiscasset Community Center’s off-road course, Saturday, May 4 at 9 a.m.

The Community Center will also be running eight fitness sessions prior to the 5K. For information, inquire about the fitness course at Wiscasset Community Center.

The next meeting of the Wiscasset Lions Club will be held Wednesday, March 6 at Ship’s Chow Hall. It is expected the issue of the backpack program will be on their agenda.

Charlotte Boynton can be reached at 207-844-4632 or cboynton@wiscassetnewspaper.com.