Local News

Rolesville fights hunger with backpack program

Posted September 30, 2008 5:29 p.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2008 6:25 p.m. EDT

— For business and church leaders in Rolesville, there is such a thing as a free lunch. The town's unique effort to fight hunger is called Backpack Buddies. Each week, needy students take home a backpack filled with food to get them through the weekend.

Chamber of Commerce President Keith Smith was among those who recognized the need. "I think a lot of us were surprised at how many kids were actually going home and staying hungry all weekend," he said.

Community members donate food at collection boxes located throughout the town. Volunteers at Rolesville Baptist Church put together breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks to be sent home with students at two local elementary schools.

"It varies a little bit from week to week. Nobody likes to eat the same thing everyday," volunteer Jeff Pethel said.

Gina Haines, a guidance counselor, knows the signs of a hungry student.

"I may have some parents who will call me or send me a letter saying 'We need some help with food or we have no school supplies,'" she described.

Parents must give their permission for students to get a backpack.

"Between families who may be in crisis, families who may be homeless or jobless, we kind of put a list of kids together," Haines said.

More than 70 families at two area elementary schools have been helped by the program. Leaders are considering adding a third school to the list.