New Perryville program helps put food on the table for some fami - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New Perryville program helps put food on the table for some families

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Career Center director Steve King uses a forklift to move a pallet of Backpacks for Friday food. (Source: Perry County School District 32) Career Center director Steve King uses a forklift to move a pallet of Backpacks for Friday food. (Source: Perry County School District 32)
PACTC students pack Backpacks for Friday. (Source: Perry County School District 32) PACTC students pack Backpacks for Friday. (Source: Perry County School District 32)
Perry County Middle School teachers skipped their Christmas gift exchange and donated $120 to the Perry Co. Children's Fund. From left: Denita Schilli, Robyn Valleroy, Amy Figge, Debbie Gattis, Amanda Huber, Vickie Lohmann and Michael-Ann Buchheit. Perry County Middle School teachers skipped their Christmas gift exchange and donated $120 to the Perry Co. Children's Fund. From left: Denita Schilli, Robyn Valleroy, Amy Figge, Debbie Gattis, Amanda Huber, Vickie Lohmann and Michael-Ann Buchheit.
Students in Tom Canter's auto service technology class at Perryville Area Career & Technology Center pack Backpacks for Friday. (Source: Perry County School District 32) Students in Tom Canter's auto service technology class at Perryville Area Career & Technology Center pack Backpacks for Friday. (Source: Perry County School District 32)
Staff at Perry Co. School Dist. 32 donated $4,420 to The United Way of  Southeast Missouri. From left: Communications Director Kate Martin, Director of Instruction Linda Buerck and Superintendent Scott Ireland. (Source: Perry County School Dist. 32) Staff at Perry Co. School Dist. 32 donated $4,420 to The United Way of Southeast Missouri. From left: Communications Director Kate Martin, Director of Instruction Linda Buerck and Superintendent Scott Ireland. (Source: Perry County School Dist. 32)
PERRYVILLE, MO (KFVS) -

A new program in Perryville, Mo. is helping put food on the table for the families of 15 students.

Students who take part in the "Backpacks for Friday" program go home with a bag full of food each Friday.

School officials started raising money for the program, when word spread, they started receiving donations from families, businesses and other organizations in Perry County.

On Monday, students and staff stuffed the bags with about 13 pounds of food. That's enough food to feed a family of four for an entire weekend. Bags can contain canned meats, soups, chili, vegetables and fruits; meal kits; pasta and sauces; peanut butter and jelly; beans; and cereal. The bag is typically sent home with the oldest child in the family because of the weight.

"The whole family is hungry," said Thomas Canter, instructor at Perryville Career Center. "It's not a matter of one student or one person. You've got to feed to the whole family so everyone can just be nourished and try to better themselves to where they don't need this program."

Backpacks for Friday is a referral-based program. Teachers, nurses, cooks, administrators and counselors have referred children who are food insecure according to the Southeast Missouri Food Bank's eligibility requirements.

Observations include children who are seen repeatedly at the nurse's office for stomach aches because they are hungry; children who exhibit physical symptoms of malnutrition like extreme thinness, red and swollen skin, dry and cracked lips, dry and itchy eyes, and brittle spoon-shaped nails; children who are excessively absent due to chronic illness, who suffer from shortened attention spans and behavior indicators like anxiety, passiveness and emotional distress; and environmental indicators like moving frequently, homelessness or loss of income.

Organizers say they currently have 80 referrals representing 45 families and 118 children on a waiting list. The program started in mid-January. Organizers say they hope to add more families in March.

For more information about BFF at District 32, you can call 573-547-7500.

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