Buddy Pack program in danger

Officials fear expense will force cuts in some counties

Cindy Cook catches the pre-measured bags of cereal emptied from a box by Cheri Gardner, right. The volunteers gather every Wednesday morning to fill plastic bags with food items for Buddy Packs, goodie bags that are distributed through schools for some children to take home on weekends.

Cindy Cook catches the pre-measured bags of cereal emptied from a box by Cheri Gardner, right. The volunteers gather every Wednesday morning to fill plastic bags with food items for Buddy Packs, goodie bags that are distributed through schools for some children to take home on weekends. Photo by Julie Smith.

Despite the room being chilly, seven volunteers stood in an assembly line, packing beanie weenies, beefaroni, juice boxes, fruit cups, cereal and vanilla wafers for 899 Cole County children who receive a Buddy Pack.

Since 2005, volunteers have been gathering in rented warehouse space and church basements to pack meals for low-income children.

The Buddy Pack program, spearheaded by the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri, provides two meals that are packed and sent home over weekends and school breaks to children who have qualified for free and reduced lunches at their school.

Peggy Kirkpatrick, executive director for the Food Bank, said the program that feeds 8,600 children in 138 schools in 32 counties is in danger of ending because of increasing costs.

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To reach out to the community, the Food Bank has launched Adopt a Buddy donor program that asks donors to donate either $15 a month or $180 a year to the program. That donation will secure one child’s Buddy Pack for a full school year. Donors can choose which county their donation goes to.

Adopt a Buddy donations and general donations can be sent to 2101 Vandiver Drive, Columbia, MO 65202.

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