PLYMOUTH A group in Plymouth is tackling hunger head-on with a program aimed at making sure kids don't go home hungry over the weekend.
For three years, volunteers have been packing with a purpose. It's part of a national program called Blessings in a Backpack. With community donations, volunteers pick up enough food to feed children on weekends for a month.
"Each child gets two breakfast items, two lunch items and two snack items each week," said Chris Garner, a coordinator of the local Blessings program.
"I think the unique thing, and why people like giving to this is because, all of the money comes back to our community," said Garner.
It costs $80 to feed a child for a year. Bags include things like cereal, individual macaroni packets, granola bars and soup.
Even in a small community, volunteers say, the need is great.
"There are over 600 kids who qualify just in Plymouth schools," said Garner.
According to the Department of Education, some 30% of students in the district are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Eventually, the group hopes to serve the needs of all the children who need food. Volunteers say it will take more donations and more space.
For now, they are focused on the 200 children they are able to serve, and encouraging more people to get on board with the program, including service groups.
"Kiwanis is all about children," said Tom Sibal, a Kiwanis member and now Blessings volunteer. "Our group really got involved when a spokesman came to our club, told us what Blessings in a Backpack stands for. It just kind of touched the hearts of a lot of our members."
"There are so many children out there that I didn't even realize when I first started volunteering," said Robin Neidig, a Blessings volunteer.
The Blessings in a Backpack website says 69% of US children are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and over 60,000 children are helped by the program.
For more information about the Plymouth chapter, visit the Facebook Page.