Did you know that one in four Ohio children face food insecurity? Sometimes, the meals at school are the only ones they get until they return to school on Monday morning. Staggering, isn’t it? This isn’t just a statistic copied from some random study; I’ve heard the real stories of some of these instances from families and schools. No child should have to worry about where their next meal will come from. Ever.
Meigs County schools do, however, have some amazing programs in place to help fight this battle! All three public school districts (Eastern, Meigs, and Southern) in our community have weekend food backpack programs in place, and the staff and volunteers that help run these programs are just as amazing.
The Maternal & Child Health Program (MCHP) at the Meigs County Health Department had the opportunity to apply for funding to help our local food backpack programs this school year, so we knew we had to try for it. And we got it!
The funding has helped our schools in a variety of ways, depending on what their current program needed. For example, some of the school programs were only able to send food home a couple weekends a month. Now, those schools are able to send food packs home every weekend! Another district had been serving much smaller numbers than in the past due to funding, but with the help of the MCHP grant, they were able to expand and serve almost 60 more families that were referred! And not only that, but we have been able to shop locally for the food items. It’s a win-win!
In December just before the schools dismissed for Christmas break, Andrea Wiseman, elementary counselor and backpack coordinator for Southern Local, said “It has been such a help and relief to have that extra week of food for our students, especially with the holidays coming up and a lot of families needing a little bit more. It has really made a difference and we all appreciate it so much!”
For more information on the Meigs County Health Department’s local nutrition efforts and activities, please call Juli Simpson, RN, at 740-992-6626, or visit the MCHD website at www.meigs-health.com.
Juli Simpson, is an RN with the Meigs County Health Department.