On Friday, April 13th, 2018, the gym at Forsyth Country Day School was filled with activity. Around 50 to 60 seventh graders were all focused on the project at hand. This project had nothing to do with technology, the latest YouTube video, or a social media conversation. The purpose and goal of the activity was reaching out to help other students in the community, students who didn’t know if they would have food to eat over the weekend.
The food/backpack event was initiated as part of Forsyth Country Day School’s Backpack Program Club. The club’s primary focus is on providing meals to food-insecure elementary students in Forsyth County. According to their press release, “The project was made possible by a generous grant through the Winston-Salem Foundation’s Youth Grantmakers Association, as well as by funds raised from a 5k and Fun Run put on by the FCDS Forsyth Backpack Club last fall. The purpose of this event is not only to provide food, but to also raise awareness about local food issues which too often go unnoticed,” shared Yasmin Horner, president and founder of Forsyth Country Day School Backpack Program Club. “This awareness is especially important locally, as Forsyth County is the 10th-most food insecure county in the nation.”
According to the 2016 findings by the USDA, “12.3% of all US households have experienced food insecurity. In Forsyth County, approximately 16.9% have had food insecurity; 23% are children.”
Three groups of seventh graders worked over the three-hour event, either working to fill the food bags, preparing inspirational messages to be added to each bag, or in small-group educational/information sharing sessions on food insecurity in Forsyth County. Volunteers from the Forsyth Backpack Program led the information sessions and provided support for the overall student-led project. The Forsyth Backpack Program’s mission statement banner underlined the need and purpose: “Feeding our future, one Backpack at a time.” Visit their website (forsythbackpackprogram.org) for more information on this organization.
Using the grant money and funds from the 5k, the backpack food was purchased from the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina for a nominal rate. As the bags moved down the assembly line, students packed each with enough non-perishable food for four meals—consisting of juice, milk, some type of protein, apple sauce, and cereal—and an inspirational note. The goal was to pack at least 2,500 meals for 600 children in Forsyth County.
As stated in their press release, “The members of Forsyth Country Day School’s Forsyth Backpack Program Club hope to encourage and inspire other middle and high school students to engage in similar initiatives through Forsyth Backpack Program. Interested students are encouraged to contact Yasmin Horner ([email protected]) to start clubs and projects of their own and continue aiding the youth of Forsyth County.”
Watching these students work together with enthusiasm and exuberance was inspiring. We could take a lesson from them. Volunteers come in all ages. Anyone can help who has the desire to make a difference. Let’s make that difference!