Backpack Program Gives Kids Food for the Weekend 

A large number of students in SAD 4 in Piscataquis County receive free or reduced lunch.School lunch covers the kids Monday through Friday, but not on the weekends.Now, there’s a new program giving kids food to take home for Saturday and Sunday.You probably expect backpacks to be filled with school supplies, but in Guilford, more than 20 backpacks are being filled with food to make sure kids eat on the weekend.” Some of them don’t have the means to have a full belly on Monday morning, so this is going to give them food to be able to eat over the weekend,” said Roxanne Chase, food services director for SAD 4. Debbie Somers, regional manager for Penquis, added,” If a child is concentrating on being hungry, on not feeling well, on feeling tired and sluggish from not having enough food, that is definitely going to interfere with their learning process.”The folks at United Way of Eastern Maine are teaming up with SAD 4 in Guilford as well as Penquis and other local sponsors to bring the Backpack Program to students in need.” What we’re trying to do is lend a hand, bring partners together and address the issue,” said John Kuropchak of the United Way of Eastern Maine.Each Friday, students involved will receive a backpack filled with healthy food for the weekend. The food comes from the Partnership Food Pantry in Guilford, and is paid for thanks to donations from local companies and grants. ” Snack bars, fresh fruit, canned fruit, soups for lunch, peanut butter,” described Kuropchak.” Their responsibility is to get them home and bring the backpack back that Monday. We’ll send them back to the food cupboard and the food cupboard will refill them for the following Friday,” added Chase. Organizers hope the program will help the kids and take some pressure off their parents.” There are some issues with low incomes, with people who are struggling to pay their every day bills and this is just one of the things that could help alleviate some of the stress,” said Somers.” We hope to see a big difference in their test scores and school Monday morning,” said Chase. Organizers hope to expand the program to other school districts in the state.