Weekend hunger food program a success for children in Concho

Ronda Sharp and Mary Smorong take the nonperishable food supply items off the shelves for students at the Concho Elementary School, in Concho, Arizona, and put them into backpacks to assuage the food insecurity problem that is prevalent in communities like Concho. Smorong states, “So they don’t have to go to bed hungry.”(Photo above)

The cans and packages of nonperishable foods line the table in the Title 1 room. In assembly line fashion the students in the Colts Care Club, which is a service learning class at the Concho Elementary School, take a backpack, and depending on whether there are one or two children in the family, place two or four different types of items into the bag. The foods cover two breakfast meals, two lunch meals, two dinner meals and two snacks for the weekend until the student returns to school on Monday. The term is food insecurity. It came from the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, in 2006 to define the fear of not having enough food in the homes of American children. There is also a range of food insecurity that runs the gamut of high food security, marginal food security, low food security, very low food security.

Ronda Sharp, the Title 1 Coordinator at the school spearheads the program. Loosely called the backpack program, it is funded by a federal grant to help McKinney-Vento students who are considered at risk under the McKinney-Vento homeless services act.

Sharp leads with her heart. “We’re looking for other grant funds for other students who have food insecurities who are not McKinney-Vento.” Her goal to feed the hungry children is simple, “Food insecurity is when they don’t have enough food to feel happy and healthy,” and she is changing that profile of a hungry child in the “food desert,” that she explains is geographically when someone, “Lives a mile or more away from healthy affordable food. Families are close to 40 miles away from affordable food.” She worries that, “Access to cheaper stores causes the food stamp program benefits to be spent too quickly. We have one little girl who keeps asking is it Friday yet?”

So, on Friday afternoons at 1 PM during the Colts Care Club’s movement to feed students, shelf ready foods, pop top foods, crackers, ready to drink juices, peanut butter sandwiches and packages of salmon and tuna make their way into backpack’s and bags with students names on them to keep many from an insecurity no child should have to experience.

-Kareena Maxwell

For donation inquiries please contact Ronda Sharp 928-207-7079

Checks can be made out to: Concho School (with backpack food program in the memo)

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