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Tallahassee Rotary Club supports Second Harvest of the Big Bend's Backpack Program with volunteer time, funds

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 19:13:01-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Big Bend Region is the most food-insecure region in the state of Florida where it is estimated one in four children goes to bed hungry every night.

Second Harvest's backpack program is making sure no child has to go without.

Everyone has a different reason why they give back.

"The biggest thing for me is knowing these kids aren't going hungry," said Kelley Phillips with the Rotary Club of Tallahassee. "That really does mean a lot. Not only to the recipient but even more to the giver."

Since 2010, Second Harvest of the Big Bend has made sure kids don't go hungry, including weekends and when school is not in session.

What started with one school site has grown to provide more than 1,000 bags of food every week to kids in seven counties, something that means even more now with COVID-19 in the picture.

"It's real," said Larry Deeb with the Rotary Club of Tallahassee. "Families making choices, 'I won't eat, so my baby brother can eat,' is just astounding."

"In Leon County alone, over 30 percent of our children here in Tallahassee are food insecure," said Monique Ellsworth, the CEO at Second Harvest of the Big Bend. "We know now more than ever before, we need to ensure we have a plan in place to make sure we feed our children during this upcoming school year."

The Rotary Club of Tallahassee has been there every step of the way.

"We have been supporting that program with our volunteer time as well as funds, ever since it launched," said Pam Griggs with the Rotary Club of Tallahassee.

A partnership that's keeping kids fed.

"It's a little bit emotional when you actually deliver the backpacks," said Kim Koutnik with the Rotary Club of Tallahassee. "They come up and they actually hug you. I cannot tell you how bright their faces are and how big. They're just so grateful."

Second Harvest has partnered with Envision Credit Union for the Envision No Hunger campaign to provide even more backpacks every week, and Envision will match up to $30,000 raised through the end of July.

"Our goal with the Envision No Hunger Campaign is to increase the number of backpacks that we distribute each week to at least 2,000 to schools inside of our service area," Ellsworth said.

"This goes into the mouth of a child and is supporting a family, in helping out that family in a meaningful way," said Shannon Sauls with the Rotary Club of Tallahassee.

Each backpack provides a child with seven meals to cover the entire weekend and costs about $5 to make.

And that's where you come in. From now until July 31, you can donate to the Envision No Hunger Campaign.

Envision Credit Union will match donations dollar-for-dollar up to $30,000. The program gives children a backpack filled with essential food every week of the school year.

To donate, click here.