Hungry children have a buddy in Poplarville

Published 7:00 am Saturday, April 18, 2015


Backpack Buddies 2

GIVING BACK: Volunteers for Backpack Buddies of Poplarville at First United Methodist Church meet every Thursday to place non-perishable food items inside plastic bags for hungry children in the community. Photo by Ashley Collins.


The Feeding America BackPack Program provides hungry children with daily meals nationwide. In October, First United Methodist Church of Poplarville started a similar program in the community called Backpack Buddies of Poplarville.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We started with three or four kids and now we’re feeding 43 kids in the community,” said Carol Williams, founder of Backpack Buddies of Poplarville.

Williams said she came across the idea after watching a television infomercial about the national program.

“I remember wondering if there were any hungry kids in Poplarville,” Williams said.

A year later, the idea became a reality after Williams received approval from the Poplarville School District to implement the program.

The program was approved in March of last year and began in October.

The program consists of a group of volunteers who meet every Thursday at the church to stock bags with non-perishable food items for local children. The bags are then hand-delivered to schools across the community, including Poplarville Lower Elementary, Poplarville Upper Elementary, Middle School of Poplarville and Poplarville High School, Williams said.

“We work with several teachers who select which students qualify for the program after getting permission from their parents,” Williams said.

The bags are given to the teachers, who place the bags inside each child’s backpack while they’re either at lunch or at recess.

The program receives non-perishable food items and monetary donations from the community, Williams said.

When Williams isn’t at the church, she works at Pearl River Community College as the social media coordinator and marketing teacher.

“I’ve told my volunteers that with everything I do, I will never give up this program because I can’t imagine seeing my own kids or grandkids hungry,” Williams said.

Dale Adams, mission coordinator at Poplarville First United Methodist Church, said the program is one of their more popular programs so it requires a lot of time and effort.

“Children who don’t have access to food on a daily basis is a problem that is not addressed in many places and a lot of it comes down to the parents,” Adams said.

In the United States, one in six people struggle with hunger. In Mississippi, one in four people struggle with hunger, according to the Feeding America website.

Currently, Williams is in the process of registering the program as a non-profit organization, which will give them the ability to apply for and receive grants.

The program is accepting donations of money and food throughout the school year.

For more information, call the church at (601) 795-4519.