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Food program OK'd for kids



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February 23, 2011 - Clarkston Board of Education approved pilot implementation of the Blessings in a Backpack program, Feb. 14.

"Families don't struggle with food Monday through Friday," said Bruce Martin, Andersonville Elementary principal, the school testing the program. "They struggle with food on weekends and during holiday breaks."

The program provides non-perishable food for the weekend for students on the free and reduced lunch programs whose families wish to participate.

Meijer's partnered with the district to provide six meals for the weekend at $2.25 per meal. The meals are easy to prepare in case the children have to prepare their own food.

"Each child gets a backpack on the weekend to help them have food at home," Superintendent Dr. Rod Rock added. "Other Oakland County school districts are doing it. It has been a very successful and a very positive thing."

Rochester Community Schools, Avondale School District and Clawson School District also offer the program. It is also used in over 150 school districts in 20 states.

Blessings in a Backpack is intended to help students focus, reduce behavior issues and increase test scores.

"When Dr. Rock came on, he was very interested in the program and interested in having it in the district," said Martin. "We are very excited Andersonville Elementary is the first place to start and work out the kinks."

The program involves a committee of volunteers, guiding the process and looking at coordination and funding. Funding includes raising $100 per student before the program can begin, for $50,000. Another $50,000 must be pledged for the second year. The district is responsible for storing the food and volunteers will stuff the backpacks.

The Board approved it in a 7-0 vote. For more information, check blessingsinabackpackmi.org.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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