Most parents pack lunches for their kids to take to school. But this group packs lunches for kids to take home.
The Greater Riverside Area Community Encouragers stuffs backpacks with meals every Tuesday morning for Riverside students to take home on weekends, when access to school breakfast and lunches is not available. The Pirate Power Pack Program feeds over 100 children every weekend, providing two breakfasts, two lunches, three dinners, and some snacks that kids can simply open and eat or easily prepare on their own. Recipients are discreetly given their food by Riverside Schools staff every Friday.
United Way's newest Funded Agency is receiving $6,000 in support in 2022, which will cover the cost of seven weekends.
"I would like to say "THANK YOU" to all who donate," said Darlene Roll, Co-Chair of the Greater Riverside Area Community Encouragers. "Without your support, this program would not be available as it is today to help meet the needs in the DeGraff and Quincy areas. Your donation makes an impact and you are helping to touch many lives. We don't know the long term effect but we do know that students who have food available to them do better in school. That makes a difference now and potentially later in life."
Roll notes that the DeGraff and Quincy areas are higher than other parts of the county regarding food insufficiency and whether there is enough food on the table. In addition Pirate Pack program, G.R.A.C.E. provides a weekly meal for children over the summer at the park across from the school campus.
"My personal motivation for volunteering and working on this program started with a request for food items for the program," Roll said. "It made me realize that we who are blessed with the means to have food available sometimes do not see a need unless it is right in front of us."