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Callaway Buddy Pack program needs support

Volunteers with the Callaway Buddy Pack program sort food to be sent home with area students. Program organizers say they still need $27,000 to fully fund the program for this school year.

Volunteers with the Callaway Buddy Pack program sort food to be sent home with area students. Program organizers say they still need $27,000 to fully fund the program for this school year.

With almost half of Callaway County students eligible for the free-and-reduced-priced lunch program, organizers of the Callaway Buddy Pack program — which sends food home with those children — are looking for help from area residents to meet that need.

Callaway Buddy Pack committee member Bill Nigus said the organization’s goal is to have 340 children adopted — it costs $180 for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri-run program to feed one child for the school year. With $33,800 already collected, the Callaway Buddy Pack branch still needs another $27,000 to achieve that goal.

Nigus said last year the program helped 288 students in Fulton, South Callaway and some students in New Bloomfield. With North Callaway finally making it off of the food bank waiting list to be included, there will be even more children to feed.

“We’ve kind of tried to step in and make it a Callaway thing that hits Fulton, North Callaway, South Callaway and New Bloomfield at all of the schools,” said Callaway Buddy Pack committee member John Blattner. “We’re trying to make sure every kid in Callaway County has something to take home for the weekend.”

Children in the program each Friday receive a backpack filled with food items such as soup, crackers, granola bars, fruit cups, juice boxes, cereal, canned ravioli and peanut butter (monthly).

Nigus said data from the free-and-reduced lunch program helped the committee come up with the goal to help provide those weekend care packages for 340 Callaway children.

“I was at a meeting yesterday and the number of kids this year in the free and reduced lunch in Fulton alone is 52 percent — across Callaway County it hovers at 48 percent,” he said. “With these kinds of numbers, we knew there are a lot of kids going without food on the weekends.”

Donors wishing to support the Buddy Pack program may do so through the food bank website at www.sharefoodbringhope.org. There is an option to designate the funds to go specifically to Callaway County, and donors have the choice to give a lump sum or make monthly installments toward adopting a student for a year. Contributions also can be made at The Callaway Bank, Central Bank, United Security Bank or Bank Star One.

Nigus said Callaway Buddy Pack also is in need of volunteers to help with sorting and distributing the food. Those interested should contact Nigus at Central Christian Church at 573-642-3496.

No matter what form it takes — monetary or time — Blattner said he is confident Callaway residents will step up to help.

“Who wants to see a kid in your neighborhood go hungry when you can help?” Blattner said. “For not a lot of money, they can really make a difference in a kid’s life.”

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