MSU students participating in Backpack Program to help feed community children

Students at Murray State University have chosen to fight childhood hunger by participating in the nationwide Backpack Program as their service project for 2008. Recognizing a great need here in their own community, they have set a lofty goal of providing 6,000 backpack meals to pre-school through 5th grade children throughout this school year. Collections are underway with delivery of the first meals planned this week.

According to the Feeding America website (www.feedingamerica.org) 2006 statistics show that an estimated 12.6 million children live in what is classified as food insecure (low or very low food security) households. The stats also documented that 62 percent of all client households with children under the age of 18 participated in a school lunch program and nearly half of children were food stamp recipients. Kentucky was listed as one of the top 10 states in prevalence of food insecurity during the two-year period of 2004-06.
By adopting the Backpack Program as their community service project for this year, Robin Taffler, coordinator of service learning at Murray State, says MSU students recognize that proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children and that providing substance meals will help to provide them with some of the basic key ingredients needed to not only survive, but learn and excel as students and future wage earners.

The Backpack Program was designed to continue where school food programs leave off. Backpacks meals are sent home with targeted children to be consumed during the weekend or periods when school is not in session. Working through the schools in Murray and Calloway County, the Needline Association says that 165 children that are currently in need of this service have been identified locally.

Collection bins are located in the Curris Center, Fast Track and all residential colleges. Backpack meals will be stuffed on the T-Room Concourse in the Curris Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 of this week and again on Oct. 28 and 29, and November 18 and 19.

Items needed for the meals are pudding cups, fruit/applesauce cups, fruit snacks, toaster pastries such as Pop Tarts, granola or cereal bars, pretzels, 100 percent fruit juice boxes, peanut butter or cheese crackers, pop-top Vienna sausages and single serve microwaveable meals such as pasta or beanie weenies.

Any community members who would like to assist in the backpack program are encouraged to contact Taffler at (270) 809-3080, or send an email to robin.taffler@murraystate.edu. Additional contacts are: RĂ©Nita Avery-Meriwether, student life associate, 809-6953; Ann Landini, residential college council head, 809-2717 or Kim Griffo, coordinator of Town & Gown and university advancement services, 809-4415.

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