EL CENTRO — Continuing with the mission to assist in fighting hunger in Imperial County, Imperial County Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Jack Terrazas and District-3 Supervisor Michael Kelley made their way to the Imperial Valley Food Bank (IVFB), Wednesday morning to assist with the Weekend Backpack Program.
Together Terrazas and Kelley, along with several volunteers and IVFB employees, formed an assembly line with one mission in mind – assemble 706 plastic bags filled with milk, granola bars, canned corn, cereal and peanut butter to be distributed to 706 children in 40 participating Imperial County schools.
“It feels good to help, especially when it comes to children,” said Terrazas.
Serving the most vulnerable children, the Weekend Backpack Program (WBP) is a partial solution to childhood hunger for those not getting food beyond school provided breakfasts and lunches.
“The WBP is a bag of food for the children to take home for the weekend,” said Cecilia Regalado, program coordinator for the IVFB. “The children are usually referred by teachers. Teachers notice kids are sleepy during class or they rush to get food during breakfast or lunch, which are usually some of the symptoms that children are in need of food.”
Furthermore, Regalado noted that most of the children who participate in the program are in elementary schools.
“We are very excited to have the Supervisors here participating,” said Regalado. “In a way they are promoting the program and what we do here at the Food Bank.”
Children who participate in the WBP received a backpack in the beginning of the school year to utilize when picking up food on Friday’s when food bags are distributed.
“I think the program is dynamic,” said Kelley. “Anytime you can get involved in an organization that helps your fellow mankind you can’t go wrong, especially the people in need. I think it’s dynamic that people come together and have the compassion and passion to fellow mankind, especially children who need food. You cannot go wrong there.”
Volunteer Katie Low has assisted in the backpack bagging for over three years. She donates between two to three hours every Wednesday at the IVFB.
“I love to eat and I think everyone should be able to, but some people can’t,” said Low. “I like to be busy and can’t think of a better place to be busy than here, assisting and knowing the time I invest is actually to benefit kids in need.”
Low encourages community members to participate and get involved with the IVFB by either donating money or time.
“I had been contributing financially to the IVFB through mailers because it’s definitely a good place to put your money,” said Low.
The IVFB receives between one to two shipments of canned food per month from the USDA and receives fresh produce from local farmers.