COLUMBUS, Ga.- The Food Bank of East Alabama serves seven counties all joining in on the fight against hunger. But there’s a special way it reaches out to children in need. It’s called the backpack program.
Once the school year starts, counselors identify children in their schools who are hungry. The schools provide the number of students in need to the Food Bank of East Alabama keeping the identities of the children confidential.
Then, volunteers stop by and fill small grocery bags full of healthy snacks that are delivered back to the schools.
Those bags are stuffed in the kids backpacks to keep them fed during the weekend while they are away from the certainty of a school provided meal. Dr. Ellen Royal is an Auburn pediatrician who passionately supports the back pack program.
She knows how much nutrition means to child development.” Royal says, “A kid who comes to school hungry is not able to learn well. You know, if they’re not learning well, then that affects their potential to graduate high school and go on to career, and that sort of thing, too.
“Dr. Royal works with the program along with people from her church, First United Methodist in Opelika. During her involvement in the program, she’s made it a family affair, getting her kids involved in volunteering.
“I think it’s something we are called to do in our community, to help others, you know, and show God’s love, really, is what we feel like we are doing primarily.
” Because of the selflessness of Dr. Royal and people like her, Alabama is slowly making a dent in childhood hunger.