Standing in the Nourish program’s room at the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau, Kelsey and Matt Norris packed reusable shopping bags with food that will be bused to hundreds of local children.
The program, which served about 230 children every week before schools closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, is feeding more students as local donors reach out to help families struggling financially during the pandemic.
Until last month, Nourish volunteers stuffed and delivered backpacks to local schools, where they would be given to participating children for weekend meals. With students now doing distance learning, the food comes to their homes on school buses already delivering meals for the school districts.
The districts have joined together with the Montgomery County Community Foundation, Franciscan Health and other companies to continue the program for the rest of the school year.
Through the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund, the foundation paid for 70 additional backpacks, allowing Nourish to send out 300 weekly backpacks. Franciscan donated 1,500 reusable shopping bags.
Along with the regular food, this week’s shipment included dental supplies and hand sanitizer provided by Valley Professionals Community Health Center.
“Just some things to add to the health of the families,” Youth Service Bureau executive director Karen Branch said.
The backpacks are sponsored by a list of area churches, organizations and companies including: First Christian Church, Christ Lutheran Church, St. Bernard Catholic Church, Linden United Methodist Church, the Sugar Creek Cluster of United Methodist churches, All 4 Kids, Banjo Corp., Cargill, Valero and Hoosier Heartland State Bank.
Individual donors also sponsor bags and Waynetown-based group Kids Against Hunger is donating additional food.
For a second year, BANJO and parent company IDEX has provided funding for a summer program with 100 weekly backpacks. Sign-up information was sent to families in this week’s distribution.
“We’re still trying to figure out for this summer how to get these backpacks to the kids,” said Cathy Kruse, Nourish program manager.
With access to the Youth Service Bureau offices temporarily limited, staff members have taken over packing the bags — one person at a time to maintain social distancing. Volunteers deliver the bags to the schools.
Kelsey Norris, Branch’s daughter, and her husband volunteered to load up all of this week’s shipment.
Those interested in supporting the program is asked to make a contribution to the COVID-19 Emergency Assistance Fund at www.mccf-in.org.
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