CANTON A new program at Banford Elementary School is helping children who might not be getting enough food to eat during weekends and school vacations.
The Golden Bear Packs program was launched in February, when nutritious food was provided to 25 children for the winter break.
Program coordinator Kristen C. Whittier said the goal is to start stocking food so that it can be distributed weekly when students return to start a new school year next fall.
Its a totally volunteer- and donor-driven program, Mrs. Whittier said, noting that all donations of food and money will go directly to students in need.
The plan is to send packs of food home with participating students every Friday. The packs will contain nutritious breakfast, lunch and snack options, along with fresh fruit and other available items.
Banford Elementary counselor Kelley F. Glasgow said many families struggle with food insecurity and rely on the school cafeteria to provide their children with nutritious meals.
More than one-third of Canton Central students are eligible for free or reduced-price breakfast, Mrs. Glasgow said. Families rely on these resources to keep their children healthy and well-nourished.
The program is a community effort that also involves the Canton Golden Bear Educational Foundation and the Canton Neighborhood Center, which has donated food and information to the program.
Mrs. Whittier said the food project is a natural fit with the foundations mission to enhance the academic performance of Canton Central School District students.
Other central school districts, including Potsdam, Massena and South Jefferson, offer similar programs.
Organizers at Banford hope to send home 42 packs of food for the coming spring break and for Memorial Day.
Monetary donations are tax-deductible and may be sent to the Canton Golden Bear Education Foundation, Attn: Golden Bear Packs, P.O. Box 174, Canton, N.Y. 13617. People also may donate money or food at the Banford school office.
For information on enrolling students, contact Mrs. Glasgow at 386-8561, ext. 218, or by email at email@example.com.