School Site Coordinators – You’re the Real MVPs

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We can’t help but feel the love around the office. Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday, there is no better day of the week for it, and as the second semester of school is rolling, the love for our program site coordinators is overflowing.

Most everyone knows a teacher… or knows someone who knows a teacher or an administrator or a counselor or a school staff person. It takes a dedicated and passionate individual to hold a position like this. Most of our BackSacks and School-Based Pantry coordinators are already these dedicated and passionate professionals, but they take it one step further, promising to give MORE to help the well-being of children who are in desperate need of more than education.

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We had a quick Q&A with Megan Ellis, Youth Programs Coordinator, to give us some insight as to just how far beyond the call of duty these wonderful people go to ensure students get the food they need to succeed.

Question: Briefly explain the responsibilities of a BackSack Site Coordinator.

Megan: A BackSacks Site Coordinator is responsible for identifying the most food insecure students at his or her school and keeping that list up to date and in a secure location. He or she works with other school staff to determine the best way to distribute food on Friday afternoons. It can be at a central location or the coordinator can place the BackSacks in each child’s bag directly.

Q:  We know every school has to work a bit differently to make the program effective at their school, what are some of the most creative ways you’ve seen site coordinators present the program to their schools?

M: Gleaners recommends calling the program “Nutrition Club” and using that or another fun name to identify students selected. The Site Coordinator can take the last 10-15 minutes of the day on Friday to call all “Nutrition Club” students to the specified meeting place and integrate a quick nutrition or physical activity lesson after the food is passed out. This is another way schools can engage students about the importance of healthy eating and exercise!

Q: Briefly explain the responsibilities of a School-Based Pantry Coordinator.

M: A School-Based Pantry Coordinator is responsible for ordering food from Gleaners and manages the delivery logistics at the school. The coordinator works closely with me to plan a distribution and delivery schedule. The coordinator orders food once or twice a month for the scheduled delivery date. When the food arrives at the school, the coordinator facilitates volunteers or school staff to unpack, stock shelves, and refrigerate or freeze the product so that it’s ready for students and families to shop.

Q: How important are these programs to these schools?

M: Extremely! BackSacks provides food for students over the weekend so they can come back to school Monday morning ready to learn. School-Based Pantries provide resources on-site for students and families. When they don’t have to worry about making sure they have enough food, we can help ensure they feel secure to focus on school and growing into healthy, productive adults.

Q: If you could say anything to all of the site coordinators about their hard work what would you say?

M: A huge THANK YOU to all the site coordinators for everything they do to facilitate these programs at the schools. They are really the ones that deserve our gratitude as there is no way Gleaners would be able to feed as many children and families as we do through our youth programs without them.


Have any questions of your own for Megan about the BackSacks: Weekend Food for Kids or School-Base Pantry Programs? Leave them in the comments below, and we will be sure to get them answered!

#MondayMotivation: Going beyond education

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by Willie Matis, Communications Coordinator

Earlier today, February 9th, we shared a blog post from Babble.com. That was motivation enough to get the week started off in the right direction, but one quote stuck out from the entire post.

Our job, as teachers, is to ensure emotional and social well-being as well as academics.

This quote really stuck out to me because we get to see this play out everyday. Teachers, counselors, administration, and volunteers in over 230 schools help to ensure all of these things to their students by coordinating the BackSacks: Weekend Food for Kids Program and the School-Based Pantry Program.

Get a first-hand look at how it is handled by Ms. Erin Good at SENSE Charter School in Indianapolis…

Why are partnerships so important to the fight against hunger?

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Tune in to the latest #HaveACup episode. We sit down with President & CEO to chat about how important community partnerships to Gleaners and the fight against hunger.

Have any questions for Cindy or want to suggest a theme for #HaveACup? Leave them in the comments section below or tweet us @GleanersFBIndy.

Disaster creates Chaos. Hunger Relief brings Normalcy.

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by Willie Matis

With Snowmageddon 2015 underway in the northeast and the dipping temperatures in central Indiana, we are reminded how quickly things can take a turn for the worse.

At any moment, someone can find themselves going from a comfortable situation into a time of trial and hardship. For this reason, our direct service programs exist.

For example, we heard a story from one of our BackSack site coordinators the other day…

We have a family at our school who has all of their children participating in the BackSack program. This program was a huge help to these kids, but recently, their family had a fire in their home. The entire family was displaced for several week, their mom did not have regular access to a kitchen and could not afford to constantly take her kids out to eat. The BackSacks provided a source of food to tide them over during their family’s difficult time.

Because of this program, the children did not have to worry as often about food and were able to focus on school during this trying time for the family.

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Weather can always remind us of how quickly things can head in the wrong direction, but because of the support from the community, direct service programs exist to make sure of one thing… that no child goes to bed hungry.

#MondayMotivation: Program New Year Resolutions

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by Harvey Bananas

About halfway through January. The dust has settled from the holiday season, and I was able to catch up with our Programs department. You know the team…

Richard Gordon, SNAP Outreach Coordinator
Hope Pascoe, Child Hunger Corp Member (she’s new… you’ll get to know her)
Megan Ellis, Youth Programs Coordinator
Eddie Oliver, Programs Manager

I tracked them down because I’m VERY interested in their New Year Resolutions for the programs that they oversee. Here’s what they had to say:

In 2015, I want to increase families food budgets by providing local suppers for youth 5 nights a week!
– Hope Pascoe

Enhance and expand our ability to connect with more individuals in need of SNAP application assistance.
– Richard Gordon

Focus on building new, and nurturing old, partnerships to help feed more kids… and to clean out my inbox.
– Megan Ellis

Expand and build on community partnerships that will help us ensure no child goes hungry while they are out of school.
– Eddie Oliver

What do you think? We have a pretty ambitious and passionate group of programs people!

Do you have any questions for them about our BackSacks: Weekend Food for Kids Program, School-Based Pantry Program, Summer Meals for Kids Program, or any others?

Leave them in the comments below, and we will be sure to get them answered.

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