As the new school year gets underway, the Vermont Foodbank wants to do everything it can to ensure the youth in our communities don’t go hungry. This year, we’re getting some help from one local business. Dead River Company is once again showing its commitment to supporting food insecurity with a $10,000 donation to the Vermont Foodbank’s BackPack Program.
All school-aged children today have one thing in common: the ever-present backpack. For most kids a backpack might contain books and other school supplies. For children participating in the BackPack Program, a backpack means much more – it means a weekend with a full belly.
Beginning in October 2008, the Foodbank launched a weekend feeding program for children called the BackPack Program. This nationally recognized program of Feeding America is designed to meet the needs of hungry children at times when other resources, like school breakfast and lunch, are not available, such as weekends and school vacations.
“Dead River Company has made a commitment to focus our philanthropy on food and fuel assistance and education in ways that will make a difference in the lives of people in the communities we serve,” said Bob Moore, CEO of Dead River Company. “As the new school year gets underway many children are in need on many fronts. Proper nutrition is vital to how kids focus and it is directly relates to how they perform in school. This is an amazing program that helps ensure that area kids receive a healthy lunch. Dead River Company is eager to help raise awareness and we’re happy to contribute to the Vermont Foodbank’s BackPack Program.”
Bags of kid-friendly, non-perishable, vitamin fortified food from all five food groups are packed at the Vermont Foodbank and then distributed to participating schools. Guidance counselors, along with school nurses and other staff, determine the students most in need and send permission slips home to their parents explaining the program. To reduce any stigma, packs of food are placed into the backpacks of those children participating in the program while the students are not in the classroom.
The packs contain about eight food items for the weekend, including items like canned fruit and veggies, cereal, milk, cheese, and soup.
“In Vermont, nearly 20 percent of children under the age of 18 live in food insecure households, and their families are struggling to put enough food on the table,” said John Sayles, Vermont Foodbank CEO. “At the Foodbank we know that providing food for children on the weekends and during out-of-school times is necessary in our work to ensure that no one in Vermont goes hungry. And we are so grateful to the Dead River Company for their generous donation in support of the Foodbank’s BackPack Program. With their help, we will provide nutritious, kid friendly foods to children in Brattleboro and St. Johnsbury throughout the upcoming school year.”
During the 2013-2014 school year 20 schools are participating in the BackPack Program, including Oak Grove School in Brattleboro and the St. Johnsbury School. The Vermont Foodbank is now seeking funding for the 2014-15 school year, which will expand services from 822 children to 1,000 children served through the BackPack program.
Schools are selected for the program each year based on funding available and percentage of youth participating in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs the schools. During the 2013-14 school year, the Vermont Foodbank will package nearly 20,000 bags, or 63,000 pounds of food for children in need.
“Dead River Company is a family-owned business that truly believes that when people work together, great things are possible”, said Gary Haines, Dead River Company Area Manager. “Unlike many businesses, Dead River employees are actually inside people’s homes. We see first-hand the needs of many. And the primary needs are for food and fuel assistance. I’m glad our company could help and that this donation will help feed kids from St. Johnsbury to Brattleboro.
One thousand youth will receive backpacks each week during the 2014-15 school year. In a year’s time, the Vermont Foodbank will package approximately 35,000 bags or 123,000 pounds of food for children in need.
About Dead River Company
Founded in 1909 by Charles Hutchins, Dead River Company originated in the forest products industry, along the banks of the Dead River, from which the company took its name. Today, Dead River Company is the largest retailer of home heating products in northern New England. Known for their highly-skilled and quality technical services, Dead River Company designs, installs and services heating and cooling systems fueled by oil, propane, and kerosene. Energy professionals provide 24- hour emergency response service, as well as advice on how to achieve fuel conservation and efficiency goals. The company’s Dead River Properties division is actively engaged in commercial real estate, developing, owning and managing a large portfolio of properties from Maine to Florida. For more information, visit www.deadriver.com.