The Tuscarawas County Health Department is looking to the community for donations to fund a program for local youth.
22.2% of children in Tuscarawas County or 4,760 children live in food insecurity (Akron Canton Food Bank, 2018). Food insecurity refers to the USDAs’ measure of lack of regular access to nutritional food for active and healthy lives.
In 2016, the Tuscarawas County Health Department was granted funding from the Ohio Department of Health to implement a program called Blessings in a Backpack. Blessings in a Backpack mobilizes communities, individuals, and resources to provide food on the weekends for elementary school children across America who might otherwise go hungry. TCHD has been able to provide take-home food packages to grade school students from five different schools, who are selected by school personnel for participation in the program. To date, nearly 13,000 bags or 91,000 items of food have been sent home with Tuscarawas County children. In addition to the weekend food packages, TCHD teamed up with Adventure Harley Davidson and UnitedWay to provide food for extended holiday breaks.
Just recently, TCHD was notified that the Ohio Department of Health would no longer be providing funding to continue this program. Without program continuation, these students in Tuscarawas County will again be hungry on the weekends. Thus, TCHD is asking for monetary donations from companies and individuals to sustain and continue the program. The hope is to secure funding that will allow for a program expansion to help curb the 4,760 children who are food insecure in our community.
The Health Department asked children who participate in the program why the program was important to them and received answers such as “it gives me food to eat on the weekend” and it’s important…”so my brother can eat”.
TCHD pledges to provide the personnel time associated with continuation of the program but monetary donations are being sought to purchase food items. “Monetary donations go further than food supplies because we are able to purchase bulk food at discounted prices. It costs us approximately $0.40 per child to feed them for an entire weekend”, said Katie Seward, Health Commissioner.
If you are interested in donating to this program please send checks to the Tuscarawas County Health Department, 897 East Iron Avenue Dover, Ohio 44622 Attention: Blessings in a Backpack program. All donations are tax deductible.
Press Release Issued by the Tuscarawas County Health Department