Meghan Blades, school counselor at North Georgetown Elementary School, says backpacks provided for her students through the Food Bank of Delaware are a real lifeline.
Every Friday, she personally distributes 95 backpacks to students in grades kindergarten through 5th grade. The school has approximately 830 students, and many of them live with food insecurity.
Blades said the students really depend on the bags of food for the weekend, so much so that spends the first two weeks of the school year enrolling children. She follows up with students who got backpacks in the previous year, plus others who are homeless or live in transitional housing.
“I have kids from last year come in asking for the backpacks,” she said.
Each school has its own procedure to distributing backpacks, but Blades makes sure her students also get some of her time.
On Fridays, she calls one grade, one classroom at a time to come to her office. “They are my Friday “Friends.” That’s their time. These are high-risk kids, and their families require basic needs, not just food but clothing, winter coats, school supplies. “When kids’ basic needs are not being met, how can they focus in school? I’m thankful to have a program like this to provide some normalcy in these kids’ lives,” she said.
During this conversation, students walk by with their classmates, headed for the playground. Blades indicates children living with stress: “She’s living with a relative,” she said. Another child’s mother has stage 4 cancer; one little boy lives with his mother and three brothers in a motel room.
Meanwhile, Blades is looking ahead to the holiday season, trying to gather food and clothing for her students. She’s also looking forward to having her students and their families receive participate in other programs offered by the Food Bank of Delaware, including after-school nutrition for at-risk children and the always-popular Kid C.H.E.F. (Cooking Healthy Easy Foods)
For more information on the Food Bank of Delaware’s programs, visit www.fbd.org