By Karla Goettel
As a community volunteer who was very active in flood recovery, I was invited to join the United Way’s Hunger-Free Network. This consortium of food-aid agencies recognized last spring that the Back Pack Program run by HACAP — Hawkeye Area Community Action Program Inc. — needed additional funding.
I am excited to be a part of the team working to ensure that all of Cedar Rapids Community Schools’ elementary school children have access to sufficient and nutritious food on weekends and during school vacations. Other team members include Amanda Pieper, director of HACAP’s Food Reservoir, and Greg Goodell, coordinator of the Back Pack Program.
Our goal is to raise more than $100,000 to expand and sustain the program. It is available in only six of our 21 elementary schools. We are seeing rising numbers of requests in these schools. Taylor’s requests increased from 25 back packs last year to 50 this year. The participating children’s families must meet federal poverty guidelines.
We are raising money instead of holding a food drive because HACAP can purchase food through Feeding America and stretch $1 in donations to $12 in food purchases. We also have a goal of providing only nutritious, child-friendly food. Each pack back contains 3,200 carefully selected calories, enough to sustain a young child for two days.
We thank The Gazette for its support in the Sept. 12 editorial. Now I call upon all corporations, organizations and individuals in the community to make this happen. Could your church take a special offering to help? How about your office, book club, bridge club, service organization? A family might decide to support one child for a school year ($220.)
Studies have shown that proper nutrition is critical to a child’s brain development. Hungry children make poor students and poor students make poor citizens.
Former Feeding America President Vicky Escarra has said that more children are going hungry now. For the good of our children and the wellness of our community, please donate generously. Contact HACAP at P.O. Box 490, Hiawatha, IA 52233. All contributions are tax deductible.
Karla Goettel is a wife, mother, friend, singer, teacher and community volunteer. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org