By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough – Most students celebrate when school ends on Friday afternoon, but some who receive free lunch on a school day experience approximately 68 hours of hunger over the weekend. The Rotary Club of Northborough recently launched the Nutrition 68 program, which sends some of these students home with a special backpack of food to carry them through the weekend.
Rotary Club President Patricia Doyle said their group raised $1,500 on their own and received a grant from Rotary District for $3,000 to be able to launch the program after Thanksgiving. She estimates that it costs $200-$300 per student for the school year.
“We are currently helping 13 students who attend Fannie E. Proctor School,” said Doyle, “but hope to have the capacity to sustain and expand the program.”
Proctor School Principal Alana Cyr took the lead to collaborate on this effort over a year ago with the Rotary Club, Northborough Department of Family and Youth Services, and Northborough-Southborough Public Schools Superintendent Christine Johnson.
The school has created a small storage space for food donations to ease the weekly packing of the backpacks on premise.
Each Thursday, a few community volunteers help to fill the backpacks. Items that may be included each weekend are one 18 oz. plastic container of peanut butter, one box of crackers, one can of tuna, two cans of soup or pasta and meat, one bag of cereal, two granola bars, one can of fruit, and one box of macaroni and cheese.
Items must be small as elementary school students are transporting the backpacks home, and glass items are not acceptable.
The privacy of the recipients is important and only the school administration is responsible to ensure that the filled backpack is discretely given to the student on Friday and the empty backpack is returned on Monday.
Doyle is very appreciative of Wegmans of Northborough, who is a major corporate sponsor of the project.
She is also hoping for additional business support to carry the program through the end of the school year and allow for planning to expand to all the Northborough elementary schools.
All donated funds are directly used to support the feeding of these children through the purchase of food and other necessary supplies to store and deliver food.
The Rotary Club fundraisers help in part to support their programs. They will be holding their annual Pancake Breakfast Sunday, March 24, at the Marguerite E. Peaslee School, 31 Maple St., from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Two jazz groups will be performing live music. Cost is $5 per person. Donations for the Nutrition 68 Program will be accepted at the breakfast. Monetary donations can be sent to the Rotary Club of Northborough, PO Box 651, Northborough, MA 01532.
For additional information on how you or your business can help, contact Pat Doyle at 508-393-9031 or email [email protected].