Cars were packed into the parking lot at Campbell Chapel Church in Ironton as volunteers with Backpack Buddies loaded food into box after box.
“We’ve been doing this program for about a year and a half now,” Jodi Hunt, Backpack Buddies program director, said. “This is our fourth food give away at the church and we always have a good turn out here.”
The turn out on Saturday was right in line with the previous giveaways at the church as around 800 families were provided with fruit, vegetables, canned goods, deserts and frozen food items. The food was all purchased from the Facing Hunger Foodbank, formerly known as the Huntington Area Food Bank, and distributed by volunteers.
“This is really important for our community,” Hunt said. “I think it’s a necessity here in Lawrence County. So many people are struggling day to day with jobs and this economy. We were blessed to be able to work out a good deal with the Huntington food bank to buy this food.”
This food giveaway was planned to coincide with the start of back-to-school to provide a little peace of mind to the parents whose wallets have already been stretched thin getting ready for the new academic year.
“It’s August, you’re going back to school. It’s such a busy time of year,” Hunt said. “Trying to get your kids school supplies, clothes and everything they need to return to school, so it’s huge for our community to relieve a little bit of that burden by providing families with some necessary food items.”
Hunt started Backpack Buddies at Rock Hill Elementary with the help of Dee Travis and the program has grown to encompass several area schools and community stops throughout Lawrence County.
“I had an idea and she (Travis) had an idea and we kind of just put them together and started a collaboration,” Hunt said. “It started at Rock Hill and it has grown from there. We are in several schools now and are trying to expand to more.”