By: Lauren Harper
When they’re hungry, most kids and teens in Fort Mill can easily either reach into their refrigerator for a snack or drop by the local McDonald’s or Wendy’s and pick up a meal to-go. But this luxury is not had by all of Fort Mill’s youth, and as a result, many children receive their only meals in school and later go home to an empty kitchen. This is clearly a problem that needs to be fixed. So recently, a collaboration among members of the Fort Mill School District, The Springs Close Foundation and Second Harvest Food Bank kicked off Fort Mill’s Back Pack Program.
This program, which is aimed more towards young elementary children, provides students with a back pack full of non-perishable items that they can eat over the weekend when they are away from school. On Friday, September 17, almost 100 students were sent home with a back pack full of items like tomato soup, peanut butter, cereal bars, macaroni and cheese, and fruit cocktail to keep them well-nourished until they returned to school on Monday. “The idea is to provide things that are easy for a child to fix that they don’t have to fix on the stove. They can cook it in the microwave or in some cases, they can eat it right out of the package,” director of Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, Kay Carter stated.
Programs like Fort Mill’s Back Pack Program can also be found in Rock Hill and Clover schools. The program is funded by a $15,000 basic-needs grant given by the Fort Mill Advisory Program of The Springs Close Foundation. It is also planned to continue throughout the school year and will even provide food for kids on holiday breaks. According to Carter, there are “over 8,000 children in York County who live in poverty.” With some of those 8,000 children attending Fort Mill Schools, leaders feel that it is their job to make sure that children at schools like Riverview, Sugar Creek and Pleasant Road are well taken care of.
Groups like the WIN Program and High Five Club in Fort Mill are taking the initiative and helping out with the Back Pack Program, but anyone in the area can help. Donations are being accepted, and those wishing to take part in this effort are encouraged to send checks payable to the Second Harvest Food Bank. When they are at school, we know they’re getting meals, but when they go home on the weekends or the holidays we are not sure,” Carter stated, and Fort Mill’s Back Pack Program is a great step in ensuring that Fort Mill students are getting the nourishment they need to both learn and grow.