Child focused food program running short on supplies

Published 4:46 pm Saturday, February 5, 2022

A local food assistance program geared to children is in dire need of donations due to the rising cost of food and more and more children needing that help.

With so many food insecure homes in Pearl River County, many children may not have the food they need when not attending school.

That is where the Southern Pearl River County Bak Pak program comes to the rescue. Organizers of the program Lauren Cumberland and Beverly Walley said the program provides children in need with enough food to carry them through a weekend. Each bag given to the children in need contains breakfast, lunch and dinner for two days during the week.

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However, the program needs the community’s help to continue its operations. With more and more children needing food assistance, the amount of funding on hand is not enough to carry the program through to the summer when it ends each year.

About 60 percent of the food provided to the children through program comes from Feeding the Gulf Coast. The rest is provided by donations from the First United Methodist Church in Picayune, community members and other avenues.

About 190 students attending Picayune School District campuses and 55 students attending Pearl River Central Elementary benefit from the program.

Every two weeks, volunteers in the program gather at the church to fill bags with the food the children will receive from teachers at their respective schools each week. Children in the program are selected by their teachers and as such remain anonymous.

Walley said it typically takes the 15 to 20 volunteers about and hour to pack two weeks worth of bags. Each bag contains about $5 worth of food that feeds the child for two days. Typical items included in the bags are apple sauce, easy mac and cheese, canned foods and two portions of shelf stable milk.

Monetary donations can be made at the church, located at 323 N. Haugh Ave.