Greene County High School student Gavin Scheuermann was one of several youth helping unload $2,300 worth of donated food to the district's Backpack program, engineered by Heartland Bank. The initiative feeds 80 families each weekend.  BRANDON HURLEY | JEFFERSON HERALD

Heartland Bank raises $2,300 for Greene County backpack food program

STAFF REPORT

Local food security should witnessed a strengthen uptick for at least a few months thanks to a recent fundraising drive.

Heartland Bank in Jefferson partnered with the Greene County Community School District to provide food for the school’s backpack food pantry program.
The district currently supplies 80 families each week with enough food for meals to last Friday evening through Sunday night, helping reduce local food insecurity.
Heartland Bank caught wind of the dwindling food supply, initiating a food drive throughout the month of December. The bank was able to gather more than $2,000 in donations, and also added a $300 donation on top to help supply food.
The bank then purchased several hundred pounds of non-perishable foods, from mac and cheese to nutritious vegetables.

The bank visited Greene County High School on Jan. 4 in order to drop off two truckloads of donated foods. Members of the Ram wrestling team helped unload the vehicles amid a chilly, snowflake splattered day.
The school typically draws food from the Food Bank of Iowa each week. The program began at the elementary level and recently shifted to district-wide, addressing a vital need. Food is packed into backpacks each week to help with discretion, while products are also placed in black grocery bags.

The $2,300 worth of food will help supply several months worth of bags, the school said.

“The Food Bank of Iowa BackPack Program™ bridges the gap between the weekend and school week,” the Food Bank of Iowa website reads. “Elementary students in need receive a sack of nutritious, kid-friendly food each Friday during the school year. This tides them over on Saturday and Sunday so they’re ready to learn on Monday.

BackPack Program benefits are felt most strongly on Monday mornings. Kids are better equipped to learn, and behavioral incidents are greatly reduced. Proper nutrition helps kids succeed in school and later in life.”
Interested community members are encouraged to reach out to the Greene County Community School District to make donations.
A $5 donation, Food Bank of Iowa said, provides one full bag of nutritious food for a student.

What is food insecurity?

For more than 300,000 Iowans, food insecurity means not having access to enough nutritious food to live active, healthy lives.
Food insecurity can be very different from person to person. It can happen to anyone at any time.
It can be a homeless woman who doesn’t know where she’ll get her next meal. A retired couple who relies on SNAP to supplement their food budget. Hardworking families who simply don’t earn enough to make ends meet. People living with disabilities. Or a veteran who has enough for breakfast or lunch but must attend congregate meals for dinner.
The impact of food insecurity is tremendous. It goes far beyond just being hungry.
For adults, it means a higher likelihood of health problems like obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure. And struggling to perform at work. For children, it may mean setbacks in growth and development, and lifelong behavioral issues. No matter how severe, food insecurity is tough to live with (courtesy of Food Bank of Iowa).

Food Insecurity statistics in Iowa
• 10 percent of Iowans remain food insecure
• A third of those residents facing hunger are children
• Food insecurity is a product of poverty. Low-income households are forced to spend a greater proportion of their limited incomes on food (Courtesy of Food Bank of Iowa)

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