Lexington backpack program helps feed students in need

LEXINGTON, Tenn. — Many children may not get enough to eat when they go home from school for the weekend.

More than a quarter of children in Tennessee live in food-insecure homes, meaning they do not always know where their next meal is coming from.

But the Lexington City School system is hoping to change that.

“With Tennessee being the seventh highest state in the nation as far as childhood food insecurity, we know there’s a need to send home with children on the weekends,” school health director Melanie Douglas said.

The school system is making sure their students do not go home hungry.

At the end of the week, 90 sacks are prepared and delivered with enough food to get students through the weekend.

Each bag is placed in the student’s backpack at different times of the day when they aren’t in the classroom.

Douglas said students sometimes rely on school meals.

“So they may not receive a meal from Friday afternoon until Monday morning,” she said.

Douglas said keeping students healthy is a key factor when it comes to academic success.

“If there are children in need that don’t have the weekend nourishment, there are barriers to keep them from learning,” she said.

But the sacks of food don’t only help the students in school — it’s something they look forward to.

“Our children will smile and say ‘thank you’ and will ask if they are getting food this weekend, so they are very appreciative,” Douglas said.

The funding for the program comes from a grant through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee as well as support from local churches and community organizations.

Sacks of food are even distributed before holiday breaks.

If you would like to help with the program, you can contact Melanie Douglas or Gennifer Leslie at 731-968-8457 ext. 430 or 517 for more information.