Volunteers on the North Carolina Research Campus, led by Jomari Torres, M.D. from the NRI, have been partnering with Shady Brook Elementary School in Kannapolis since October 2015 to provide food for children in need. This effort, modeled on Feeding America’s BackPack Program, provides food for children who regularly experience hunger, especially during weekends, because they do not have enough resources at home to purchase food. Children in need are sent home from school on Fridays with backpacks filled with foods that they can either warm up themselves or that require little to no cooking.
The program has recently expanded to include students in need at Harris Road Middle School and Early College High School, both located in Concord, thanks to two significant donations. In December last year, Food Lion grocery stores donated $3,500 worth of food to the program and the nonprofit organization Feeding Cabarrus Children from the motorcycle club Star Touring and Riding Chapter 443 gave the program a $2,000 gift.
Torres hopes to expand this backpack program to include other Kannapolis City Schools in need, and is requesting the community’s help. The program continues to collect food and deliver it weekly to students at Shady Brook, Harris Road and Early College schools. These food items are most needed: macaroni and cheese, canned pasta, peanut butter and jelly, bread, canned soup, canned fish and meat, canned vegetables and beans, applesauce, jello in packs, healthy granola bars, unsweetened packaged fruit, low-sugar dry cereals, fresh fruits including bananas, apples and oranges.
If you’d like to contribute to this backpack program, you can take donations to the Nutrition Research Institute, room 1315, 500 Laureate Way, Kannapolis, NC 28081. Food is delivered to the schools each Thursday at 11 AM. Torres’ group also accepts cash donations, which she and her volunteers use to purchase groceries for the backpacks. There is a collection box by the register in the Lettuce Eat Café at the NRI.
“This is an ongoing need, therefore we plan to continue this project for as long as we can. These children must eat every day,” says Torres. “We are very thankful to all those who are making this weekly food drive possible through their donations.”
For more information, contact Jomari Torres at 704-250-5035 or via email at Jomari_torres@unc.edu.