As Program Manager for Child Hunger Initiatives at Good Shepherd Food Bank, I tell people constantly about the childhood food insecurity crisis here in Maine. Though the groups and individuals I talk to are always different, the distress and disbelief people express when they hear that 1 in 4 children in this state don’t always have enough food to eat is always the same. Seeing those reactions and thinking so frequently about this unpleasant truth is the hard part of my job.
Here’s the great part of my job: childhood hunger is a completely solvable problem. Here’s the BEST part of my job: I get to see organizations and individuals get creative and passionate as they work towards solving that problem every day. This Wednesday at our Auburn Warehouse and Distribution Center was a perfect example of just that. Team members from our local Procter & Gamble subsidiary, Tambrands, came to the Food Bank and presented us with a $20,000 check to launch a BackPack Program here in Auburn.
The BackPack Program is a very simple and very effective way to reduce childhood hunger on the weekends. During the school week, many families depend upon the free and reduced school lunch program to feed their children. The weekends often represent gaps in access to food that leave teachers all over the state competing against hunger for the attention of their students come Monday mornings. This gift from Procter & Gamble and Tambrands is allowing the Food Bank to reach 135 students at Auburn’s two neediest school systems with easy to prepare, nutritious food to get them through their weekends for the remainder of this school year.
But the Tambrands team’s commitment to feeding Maine’s youth didn’t end with a check presentation. After the donation was made, around 15 employees, including Felica Coney, the Tambrands Plant Manager, rolled up their sleeves to help us assemble a one month supply of the BackPacks that these Auburn students will be receiving each Friday. In total, 540 backpacks were assembled and their team of warehousing and production experts helped us create the most efficient way to pack these bags we had ever seen. They are coming back next month to help us again and we can’t wait to see them then!