‘Backpack Buddies’ seeing urgent need for childrens’ meals

‘Backpack Buddies’ seeing urgent need for childrens’ meals
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 6:16 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2022 at 7:49 PM EDT
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ASHBURN, Ga. (WALB) - Turner County parents need help feeding their children

Turner County Family Connections Director Patricia Harris said right now, they do not have enough resources to continue their weekend food program.

“The first year I was overseeing it, we had 30 or 40 children. But this year, we have 164,″ Harris said.

Now one in three children, kindergarten through fifth grade are reliant on “backpack buddies” to get food during the weekend. In just the past year, the number doubled. As the need continues to increase, food prices have doubled as well.

It takes about $25 to get all the food needed for each bag.

Vegetables used to be 65 cents, but now they are more than a dollar, Harris said.

The program supplies two entrees one vegetable and one side. Sides usually come in the form of breakfast bars, oatmeal and fruit. Entrees are spaghetti circles, beans, and ramen. All of which have been going up in cost.

“There are times we’ve had people donate fresh fruit and apples. We rely on community members and churches to donate,” Harris said.

Patricia Harris was a single parent and needed something like this when she was younger.
Patricia Harris was a single parent and needed something like this when she was younger.(WALB)

Harris said there have been donations coming in. One church donated $500 recently, but it’s not enough to operate through Christmas. Harris said they never turn people away, no matter how big the need is.

“And with the price of food now, everybody can use a little help here or there. Whether they ask for it or not. I was a single parent and I had a great need, but at that time I didn’t have the luxury of a backpack buddy,” Harris said.

Some in Ashburn are concerned that some parents may be abusing the assistance.

“When they get to where they can handle it, they catch up on bills, and they are not running short, they will take themselves off. So it’s not like somebody’s just using the system. These people, they utilize it because there is a need,” Harris said.

Backpack Buddies have their first delivery to kids later in September.