Backpack Buddies begin second year helping kids

Vineyard Community Church volunteers assemble breakfast and lunch backpacks. Photo/Ben Nelms.

The Backpack Buddies at Vineyard Community Church are at it again this year. Now in their second year, the church group has added the income-eligible students at a third Coweta County elementary school to be recipients of free weekend breakfasts and lunches.

Backpack Buddies coordinator April Anderson said the effort that began last year has grown to the extent that in-need students from a third elementary school have been added to the effort, adding that the group is trying to amass enough support to include a fourth school this year.

A large number of church members and community volunteers arrived at Vineyard on Aug. 31 to kick-off this year’s effort.

Anderson last year said she got the idea for the initiative from friends out of state who had begun a similar effort.

The backpacks contain self-serve foods that can be eaten cold. Anderson said the children return the backpacks so the process can begin again the following week.

“The kids who may not have enough to eat get hungry on weekends, too. Hunger can be associated with dropping grades, missed school days, poor health and behavior issues,” Anderson said when Vineyard initiated the effort. “The goal is to eliminate the hunger and to eliminate the negatives.”

Anderson explained that this year more churches are participating in food drives. The word is also being taken to an expanded number of civic organizations in hope of soliciting their help with the Backpack Buddies project, Anderson added.

“It’s exciting to see that the community is catching on,” Anderson said with a smile.

The project’s goal is nothing if not impressive. The idea is to eventually expand the effort through a number of other churches and non-profits to provide weekend meals to income-eligible children throughout Coweta and Fayette counties and across southwest metro Atlanta.

For more information contact April Anderson at 770-880-3766 or visit www.senoiavineyard.com