Our Opinion: Response appreciated; need ongoing

News Tribune editorial

“But when children are in need, Cole County’s tradition is to raise, not just set, the bar of generosity.” -News Tribune editorial, Feb. 13

Thank you, area residents, for again raising the bar on generosity for children in need.

We reported last month that rising costs were jeopardizing the Buddy Pack program that provides takehome meals for needy children. An editorial connected with the story encouraged Central Missourians to participate in an Adopt A Buddy campaign to bolster the program.

You responded — in a major way.

A news story in Monday’s edition reads: “In just four weeks, donors have ‘adopted’ more than 1,000 Buddy Pack children.”

Children who have qualified for free and reduced lunches at their schools are eligible for the Buddy Pack program, operated through the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri.

Started in 2005, volunteers assemble and pack nutritious meals for eligible children to bring home on weekends and during school breaks.

In addition to the wave of “adoptions” by donors, the Food Bank has initiated cost-saving measures to reduce expenses.

Peggy Kirkpatrick, the Food Bank’s executive director, believes increased generosity, coupled with reduced expenses, will sustain the program for the remaining three months of this school year.

But, she points out, “we simply cannot do it alone. While the current funding crisis has been averted for this school year, sustaining the program is still a very real and urgent need, and we need ongoing community support.”

Ongoing support is needed because reports show the problem not only is continuing, it is growing.

As many as 51 percent of public school students in The Food Bank’s 32-county service area qualify for free and reduced-priced meals at school. That percentage translates to 56,018 students.

“The Food Bank,” Kirkpatrick said, “is committed to feeding hungry children.”

Response to the earlier appeal indicates Central Missourians share that commitment.

We encourage area residents to continue raising the bar of generosity.

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