United Way’s Nutrition on Weekends Program Thankful for Donations and Volunteers

As another school year concluded, Marshfield Area United Way’s Nutrition On Weekends (NOW) program is celebrating another year of helping students. Since its inception, the NOW program has grown from serving 29 students in two schools to serving 451 students in 12 schools.

“The program addresses a core need of assisting students living in food insecure households by providing food packs for the weekend when there is no school lunch program,” said Paula Jero, Marshfield Area United Way Director. “It so difficult for a child to concentrate in school or in general if they are hungry or worried about having enough food.”

Available every weekend during the school year, the program is a food source that kids can count on to help alleviate some of the worry and concern they may be having, and it allows them to focus more on school and what’s going on around them.

During the 2016-2017 school year, 36 different local businesses and organizations were involved with packing lunches. In total, 2192 (14 oz) boxes of cereal and 3068 lbs of snack mix (goldfish crackers, animal crackers, raisins, and pretzels) were also provided to the kids.

“What stood out for me the most this past school year was quantity- so many terrific volunteers that make the program happen, an amazing number of donated items,” said Jero.

She recalls one encounter with a little boy:

“I was picking up the empty bin at one of our local elementary schools and standing there holding the empty bin talking to a school staff member. All of a sudden there was a little tug on my jacket, and a little boy was standing next to me. In a quiet voice he said to me, ‘Thank You for helping me’. Afterwards I thought about what the food must have meant to him for him to approach me and thank me.”

Next autumn, Marshfield Area United Way will add the remaining two school districts in their service area (Stratford and Pittsville) and are hopeful that the community support remains strong and continues to grow so that no child in need is denied help or put on a waiting list.

“Food donations are needed when we begin again in the Fall – and in particular after Christmas through the end of the school year when food donations are less plentiful,” said Jero. “Consider a monetary donation that helps us to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables and bread for the program, or contact United Way about volunteering.” Learn more.

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