Backpack food program expands into the summer

Photo by Amy Cherry - Amanda Vollmer, a Fox Twp. Elementary teacher, and Ashley Kline, school counselor, are shown packing food donations for students enrolled in the Backpack Program. The program provides weekly food supplies to students and their families during the school year with this summer marking the first time they will receive donations in June, July and August.
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

This summer eligible elementary school students will continue to receive food supplies through the Second Harvest Backpack Program at St. Marys Area School District.
As part of the program students receive a bag of shelf-stable, nutritious, child-friendly food items each week when other resources, such as school lunches and after-school meals or snacks, are not available to them.
Last year program co-organizers Amanda Vollmer, a Fox Twp. Elementary teacher and Ashley Kline, school counselor, discussed offering the program through the summer, however plans did not come to fruition. This year marks the first year they are offering the program during the summer months of June, July, and August.
“We figured if we were going to do it over the summer, this would be the summer to start,” Vollmer said.
The summer extension tacks on an additional 12 food distributions to students and their families.
The program, a partnership between SMASD and the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania, is in place at all three public elementary schools including South St. Marys Street, Fox Township and Bennetts Valley. It is now in its third year of being offered in the SMASD.
Currently the program serves 40 students at South, 17 students from 12 families at Fox Twp., and 26 students from 19 families at Bennetts Valley.
Vollmer stated they were able to continue the program during the school shutdown until the remainder of the school year. During that time school resource officers delivered food to students or families could pick up their backpack food when they stopped by the schools to get their free breakfasts and lunches.
“When we got close to the end of the school year we started talking about the fact that we thought things were pretty tight for families and we might want to look into continuing the program over the summer,” Vollmer explained.