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Ussery, Nicols tell about Pack Away Hunger project

By Staff | Feb 14, 2014

Did you know that over 47 percent of Estherville Lincoln Central students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches?
Did you know that 16 percent of school-age children in the school district live in poverty?
Those were but two of the statistics presented to Estherville Rotarians Thursday by Sarah Ussery and Jolene Nichols, representing Pack Away Hunger, a program to fill up weekend food packages for school-age children at ELC.
Ussery said after Nichols saw the needs of less-fortunate families in the area over Christmas, she suggested that something be done throughout the year.
Ussery said hunger is a global issue, with 990 million people worldwide struggling with hunger, 66 million of those children in school. One in three deaths before age five worldwide are hunger-related.
In America, 16 million children live in poverty — one in five children.
In Iowa, 12.7 percent of residents live below the poverty level. And 20 percent of Iowa’s children under age five live in poverty.
Three out of five ELC teachers have students who come to school hungry. As a result, students are unable to concentrate, have poor academic performance, have headaches and stomachaches, have a lower chance of graduating from high school and have a lower chance of going to college.
The present goal of Pack Away Hunger is to provide weekend backpack meals for kids. A suggested food list is:
n Chicken or Tuna Helper.
n Canned chicken or tuna.
n Pizza kits (complete — no added ingredients).
n Pasta and pasta sauce.
n Mac and cheese (complete — no added ingredients).
n Canned pasta with pull lids (like Chef Boyardee).
n Mac and cheese bowls (individual).
n Peanut butter.
n Cereal (individual boxes).
n Oatmeal packets.
n Fruit/applesauce cups.
n Canned vegetables.
n Canned Fruit.
n Fruit snacks.
n Granola bars.
n Pudding cups.
n Cheese or peanut butter and crackers packets.
n Rice cups.
n Juice boxes.
n Microwave popcorn.
No glass containers and only non-perishable items are requested.
Ussery said five kids per grade level could be helped through the program. And sometimes, help is needed just for a short time.
Future goals for the program are cooking and lifeskills classes for children and a summer backpack program for kids.
People can help with monetary donations. Just $15 will fill one backpack each week. Donations can be mailed to Pack Away Hunger, P.O. Box 230, Estherville, IA 51334.
Food donations may be left at:
n Blum & Leonard Agency Inc., 418 Central Ave.
n Iowa Lakes Community College, 300 S. 18th St.
n Inman Electric Co./Radio Shack, 15 S. Sixth St.
n Estherville News, 10 N. Seventh St.
Ussery said food bags will probably be filled Friday morning and distributed in the afternoon. She hoped Grandview Baptist Church, which will be fiscal agent for the project, could be used for storage.
Nichols said a letter about the project will be sent to parents in two weeks.
Ussery said the goal is to start sending out food packs by March.