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.
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!