Hundreds of students will get extra food in their backpacks for Thanksgiving break, thanks to a program through Feeding the Gulf Coast and the volunteer work of Hancock Bank employees.
Feeding the Gulf Coast’s backpack program serves about 600 children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price lunch at school. The program gives them food to take home for the weekends. During holiday breaks, they get extra food to tide them over.
About one in four children on the Gulf Coast is at risk of going hungry, nutrition programs director Kim Lawkis said.
“That means one child on every row of the bus is food insecure,” she said.
But it costs only about $125 to provide a child with backpacks of food for an entire school year. If you want to help you can donate here.
On Friday, 18 employees from Hancock Bank gathered at Feeding the Gulf Coast’s office in Gulfport help pack the food to be given to the children, including cereal, oatmeal, Ramen noodles and instant soup. The food needs to be shelf-stable, and easy to open and make for children who may have to cook it on their own because they are home alone or for those with elderly guardians who can’t easily cook or open packages.
“Holidays are supposed to be a happy time,” said Dan Marks, the bank’s chief marketing officer. “The idea that some people might go hungry, it really pulls at your heart strings.”
The volunteers aimed to fill 1,000 food bags Friday.