Making sure children have food during the weekends when school is not in session is the goal of Blessings in a Backpack.
In Albertville, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the group to step back and rework how they get the food to the children.
Tammy Kilgore, children’s minister for LifePoint Church in Albertville, said beginning after fall break, students in need will receive a pre-packaged food allotment weekly instead of one packed by hand by volunteers.
“We can’t pack at the Albertville Elementary School right now like we used to because they clean the school in the afternoon and evenings,” Kilgore said. “Plus, our local supplier isn’t able to supply us like they had been due to shortages caused by the pandemic.”
Each week, approximately 300 students in kindergarten through fourth grade take home a Blessings food pack.
Before COVID-19 struck, volunteers gathered weekly at the Albertville Elementary School cafeteria to assemble 300 bags. Each volunteer took a bag, snaking their way through the tables laden with snacks, soup, cereal and other food, placing the appropriate number of items inside the bag before a short prayer was added at the end.
“Having to change to the prepackaged food costs more so we are taking donations to help offset the costs,” Kilgore said.
During the upcoming Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, organizers plan to send home extra bags.
To fill those bags, local churches, including LifePoint, First Baptist, First Methodist, Solitude Baptist, First Presbyterian and Compassion City Church are seeking donated food such as granola bars, fruit snacks, microwave popcorn, ramen noodles and Rice Krispy Treats. Donated items will be accepted through Nov. 8.
Additional churches interested in hosting a food drive for specifically requested foods may call Kilgore at 256-891-5252.
Blessings officials will fill 600 extra bags closer to the holidays, Kilgore said.
Monetary donations are accepted throughout the year and Kilgore said, “no donation is too small.”
About $100 will feed an elementary school-age child for the typical 38-week school year.
Monetary donations made out to Blessings in a Backpack Albertville City Schools. Mail them to Albertville City Schools Central Office, 107 Main St., Albertville, Al. 35950.
More than 11 million children in the United States are at risk of hunger. Poor nutrition can result in a weaker immune system, increased hospitalization, lower IQ, shorter attention spans and lower academic achievement.
Blessings in a Backpack feeds 87,000 children in nearly 1,100 school in 45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.