The pantry started a new farmers’ market program for children this year.
“We call them Give ‘em a Sprout-Out Kid’s vouchers,” Murray said.
As of Nov. 17, $4,835 was spent on market vouchers, and $562 for 281 children’s vouchers.
Another way the food pantry tires to reach out to children is by participating in the national supplemental nutrition program in partnership with The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and CCS. Murray said the BackPack Program sends home six meals of “child-friendly” food every Friday to “at risk children” in a confidential manner. The program is designed to meet the needs of hungry children in times when other resources are not available, especially on weekends. Bags are packed each week by Leo Club volunteers and discreetly distributed by school staff to participants. During the 2011-12 school year, 385 bags were distributed to CCS students.
The program is funded entirely by local donations. The average cost of one backpack full of food is $5.56 and the cost to sponsor a child for a full school year is $167.
Twenty children are enrolled in the program, according to Murray.
“We ended 2011 with 22 participants. We anticipate more children to enroll as we get further into the school year,” she said.
Murray said the Cooperstown Food Pantry does not participate in a summer food service program for children, but the need for food increases during the summer because children who get free or reduced lunches at schools have to be fed at home.
“There is a perception that we slow down in the summer months, but that is not really true at all,” Murray said.
The Cooperstown Food Pantry, founded in 1977, is an all volunteer agency. It has about 65 volunteers, but is always looking for helping-hands. The food pantry is a member agency of The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, and Feeding America, the largest hunger relief agency in North America.