Mid-Missouri Restaurant Association to present check to food bank

Friday, February 10, 2012 | 4:45 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA – The Mid-Missouri Restaurant Association will be presenting a checkto the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri for its Buddy Pack program on Tuesday. 

According to a news release, the check will represent 10 percent of the amount raised during the first Mid-Missouri Restaurant Week, which took place last month. The Food Bank has not been told what the actual amount of the check will be, communications coordinator Rachel Ellersieck said. 

Szasz Benedict, a public relations representative for the association, said that the association needed a good cause for the event. Benedict said that the Food Bank’s Buddy Pack program seemed to be the best choice. 

The Buddy Pack program provides food for students to take home for a weekend or holiday break "to supplement meals when there’s not enough to eat at home," according to the release. 

Ellersieck said the program provides food to 138 elementary schools in a 32-county service area. 

According to the Bank’s website, the Buddy Pack program helped feed 8,600 children last year. It hopes to add another 2,000 children to the program during the 2011-2012 school year. 

Due to an increase in cost and overall need, the program has become more expensive to fund. Residents can donate backpacks, food or cash to help this cause through an "Adopt a Buddy" program through the Food Bank.  

The buddy packs include nutritious, cost-efficient and non-perishable snacks, such as pop-top canned soup, granola bars or fruit cups. Ideally, the packs include food that children can prepare on their own, said Ellersieck. 

She said that the Food Bank orders a menu selection of food, volunteers assemble the snacks in plastic bags and then the bags are sent to the schools, where more volunteers put the bags in backpacks. 

The children receive their buddy packs in backpacks so that they won’t stand out as being different from other children. 

To determine who is eligible for the program, the Food Bank observes the rate of free and reduced priced meals in various locations, which is generally a good indicator of who is in need, said Ellersieck.

“We rely on the teachers to be our eyes and ears. They know the students the best,” said Ellersieck. 

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