ANDERSON COUNTY, SC (WSPA) — The United Way of Anderson County is asking for your help as it continues to provide meals for children over the weekend.
The group said many children in the five school districts in the county, have nothing to eat when they’re not in school. Leaders believe community support is critical in making a difference with the “Weekend SnackPack Program”.
“Some of these children have little to nothing to eat over a weekend,” said Carol Burdette, CEO United Way of Anderson County.
Each bag is equipped with four to five meals to last throughout the weekend, and a note filled with encouraging words.
“That would give them enough food for the weekend, where they can have some cereal and milk. They can have some pasta, a snack, and some juices, for them to have over the weekends,” Burdette said.
The bags are discreetly placed in 800 to 1,000 students’ backpacks every Friday.
“So when the teachers identified these students, these students maybe could be showing that they’re not focused in school. They’re not able to pay attention. A lot of students are begging for more than one breakfast item. They are begging for more breakfast because their bellies are hungry, their tummies hurt. So when the teachers noticed these signs that they’re hungry, they let the guidance counselors know that they think they need to be added on the snack pack list,” said Liz Brock, Director of Community Engagement & Partnerships at the United Way of Anderson County.
Burdette said they found many students may get behind in their studies, if they don’t have weekend food.
“When children go home on Friday, if they have little to no food, it will take them till after lunch on Tuesday, to be able to get back in the rhythm of not being concerned about being hungry,” Burdette said. “The research says that they will continue to think about the time they spend over the weekend, when they had little to no food. And when they are concentrating on food, they are not able to concentrate on the importance things,” she added.
They assist 28 elementary schools in all five districts, including Homeland Park Primary, an area principals said is a high poverty population.
“It’s important for them to have those meals, because our parents work really hard to make ends meet. They spend their money wisely, but as we know, the dollar only goes so far,” said Gary Bruhjell, Executive Principal at Homeland Park Primary & Verennes Elementary School.
The United Way of Anderson County said it takes $150,000 a year to keep this program going, that’s why leaders are relying on your help.
“Specially right now with covid, we know that children are going to be lagging,” Burdette said.
“I don’t like to look at it as helping out the needy, but helping out those who are in need. And they are in need, and at some point, we’re all in need of help from others. And so this is an opportunity to give to those who are currently in need,” Bruhjell said.
Leaders hope your help will lift burdens for families and children, one bag at a time.
“Well we need your help. We can serve more children. There’s more children out there that can use the help. Not just here, but at other schools in our district and in our county. It takes all of us to come together to raise children together. So we need a everybody to help,” said Elizabeth Bowen, Principal at Homeland Park Primary School.
United Way of Anderson said all proceeds goes directly to buying the food from Second Harvest Food Bank.
The group said donations are accepted all year. Leaders said an angel donor has given $25,000 in gifts towards the program, and they need to match this by the end of March.
To see how you can help, click here or call 864-226-3438.