Summer Backpack Program set to kick off

To the editor:

Thank you for providing this forum to express appreciation.

On Tuesday, June 11, the Juniata County Food Pantry will begin its annual Summer Backpack Program. Children who have completed any grade in the Juniata County School District this year from kindergarten through eighth grade and received free or reduced-price lunches are eligible to participate. Parents or legal guardians should call the pantry at (717) 436-9718 to schedule an appointment to bring their children and their Access Card to the pantry to register and receive five lunches per week during the months of June, July and August. Pantry hours are 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

This year provided us with our most successful kick-off events to date. On May 11, we were hosted by Schlegel’s Grocery and Hardware in Thompsontown, and on May 18, by Weis Markets in Mifflintown. We are very grateful to the management of each store for allowing us to utilize their store site to solicit donations to begin our program. Your sense of community is greatly appreciated!

These two events netted $1,048.75 and 652 pounds of food items from our program’s shopping list. What an overwhelming example of concern for the children of our community! Thank you to every one of these donors. This affords a tremendous foundation for our program.

These “Stuff the Bus” events would not be possible without the assistance of Helen Casner, bus owner and driver. She donates her bus and her time to the success of the day. Helen possesses a heart for children, as well as a positive sense of community. Thank you, Helen!

Thank you to the food pantry volunteers who gave up a Saturday or two to accept donations and to thank our donors. They include Treva Seiler, Carrie Jacobs, Sue Lukens, Trudy Ober, Jan and Steve Manbeck and Glenda Fultz. Thank you for your time and your enthusiasm!

Thanks also goes to Deb Brackbill of The Times and to Rocco Pallotto and the MERF Dog for attending and publicizing our events.

Pennsylvania’s Department of Agriculture states that 19.3 percent of children in our state experience food insecurity, a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. Think about a classroom of 25 students. This statistic tells us that there may be as many of five of them without adequate food. That is why this program and programs like it are so important to our children.

If you missed our events and would like to contribute either single-serve food items or a monetary donation, you may do so any time from now through August. Items may be taken to the Juniata County Food Pantry at 114 N. Main St. in Mifflintown. Monetary donations may be mailed to the Juniata County Food Pantry at P.O. Box 44, Mifflintown, PA 17059. Anyone interested in assisting with the program throughout the summer is also welcome!

Psalm 127:3 tells us that children are a gift from God, a blessing. Thank you to everyone who shares that belief and supports children in any way possible!

Patricia E. Brown

Summer Backpack Program Coordinator

Juniata County Food Pantry