It's that time of year.
The Backpack Program, which puts food in the hands of the district's most food insecure students, receives much of what it passes out from Second Harvest Food Bank. But a considerable amount of the food that goes home with students each weekend also comes from local businesses, competing against one another in an effort to donate the most to the program.
This year's business to business challenge is set to being on Monday, Sept. 17 said Kelsey Angove, Marketing Director for the Rouse, who's coordinating this year's challenge.
Businesses are challenged to collect donations of food between Sept. 17 and Oct. 19. And many do, said Angove. "Last year we had around 32 businesses participate," said Angove. "It would be great to see even more this year."
The backpack program distributes packages filled with food to kids each Friday - the food is discreetly placed in the backpacks of students who opt in to the program - before they leave school for the weekend. For many students, the reality is that the best meals they get they get at school. For the students for whom that's the case, a weekend can be a long time to wait.
Around 350 students throughout the district are helped by the backpack program, said Angove. "That's about 27 percent of the WCSD elementary students in the Free/Reduced Lunch Program." It takes around 57,000 pounds of food to feed the children in the program. Last year, said Angove, nearly 5,000 pounds of food was donated by local businesses as a direct result of the challenge.
The program seeks donations of nonperishable foods such as soups, canned pastas, fruit cups, and other easily prepared things that students can get for themselves if need be. This year, said Angove, there's a concerted effort to make sure that breakfast is as well-represented in the weekly meal packs as are lunch and dinner.
Businesses who want to participate can contact Angove at (814) 563-6465, or email her at email@example.com. Businesses who are participating need to let Angove know, she stressed. "It's a competition, so we want to make sure we know you're competing." Participating businesses will be given a poster to hang at their location to let employees, patrons, customers, and anyone else who comes into contact with the business that donations are accepted there.
On Oct. 19, a representative from each business will bring all that business's donations to Allegheny Valley Elementary School in Clarendon, where their donations will be weighed and their total poundage divided by the number of people employed there. Monetary donations can also be counted, with $1 counting as equal to one pound of food. The top three businesses, determined by donation weight divided by number of employees, will be featured in the Warren Times Observer, and will win a plaque to display at their business. All businesses who participate will receive a congratulatory certificate, thanking them for their efforts, said Angove.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for your employees to show how much they care for the local children of Warren County," Angove said. Anyone looking to get their business involved should contact Angove by Monday, Sept. 17.