Representatives from Indian Lake Community Church and Indian Lake Middle School recently shared with Bellefontaine Rotary Club members regarding their joint effort to help fuel food insecure ILMS students with a weekend meal backpack program.
ILCC Administrative Pastor Dave Hafenbrack said the church’s involvement with the initiative began in the 2017-18 school year. A member of the church discovered the program when she became an employee at the school system.
“She saw the need and brought to our attention and the Indian Lake Community Church Christian Women’s Fellowship took on the project,” the pastor explained.
In 2017-18, the program served 18 ILMS students, and now 25 middle school pupils receive weekend meals and the need continues to grow.
“Our costs have doubled since we have become involved, mainly due to the additional students in the program,” Hafenbrack said.
While the church’s Christian Women Fellowship leads the effort, additional funding comes from many organizations and individuals within the church, including the Men’s Club, fundraisers and other donations.
Similar backpack initiatives also are in place at Indian Lake Elementary and Indian Lake High School. Years ago, Gretna Brethren Church helped to start the program with the elementary building and other area churches have joined in the continued effort. The ILHS Spanish Club under the direction of teacher Richard Yocum works with other churches to provide food for high school students.
Indian Lake Community Church members collaborate with ILMS Co-Principal Missy Mefford. The backpacks are assembled Fridays each week by students, under teacher supervision.
Before students head home for the weekend, backpacks are placed in the pupils’ lockers. This method provides anonymity to students who are part of the program.
Hafenbrack said the foods sent home with students includes “quite a long list of items.
“And in many cases, the items are individualized for the student’s situation. We also provide some of the food in packaging that does not require a stove or microwave as many do not have those appliances at home,” he said.
A sampling of the items includes oatmeal pouches, mac and cheese, mini muffins, cups of fruit, chicken noodle soup, ravioli, Ramen noodles, peanut butter and cheese, fruit snacks, juice boxes and hot chocolate mix.
For area residents who would like to contribute to the backpack effort, food and cash donations are accepted by the church.
“Our preference is for cash since items vary per child, cost, availability, etc.,” the pastor said.
Donations can be mailed to the church office at: P.O. Box 457, Russells Point, Ohio.
Cash and/or food donations also be dropped off at the church’s main office at 339 E. Main St., Russells Point. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, and the contact phone number is (937) 843-5636 or e-mail at [email protected]