Program helping 35 families with groceries over the summer

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - The Friends of Saint Francis and Saint Francis Healthcare Foundation are partnering with Jefferson Elementary School in Cape Girardeau to supply groceries to 35 families this summer.

On Monday, June 4, volunteers were sorting and packing up food to deliver to Jefferson Elementary School.

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From there, the Summer Tiger Bites Feeding Program will give the groceries to 35 families in need. The boxes are equivalent to $100 a week and the families will receive the boxes for 10 weeks. The program starts on June 4 and will go through August 6.

We spoke with Jimmy Wilferth, the Saint Francis Foundation Vice President, who was helping pack up items.

"We pack these meals every Monday morning," Wilferth said. "Then, Care to Learn and Cape Public School comes and picks them up around 12:30 and then delivers those on every Monday."

The boxes will help a total of 291 children, siblings and parents who typically depend on school lunches and backpack programs for their meals.

"When I ask a child down in Jefferson School, 'Tell me about the last day of summer,'" Wilferth asked the student. "I was expecting this big smile. It's the last day of summer.' What I got was a tear in his eye. He said, 'The last day of school is the worst day of the year.' Eight years old! Explain to me the worst why it's the worst day of the year? It's the last day I get food!'"

Wilferth said it's necessary to make sure these students are fed and able to focus on school.

"If you're hungry, you can't learn, period," Wilferth said. "If your belly is growling and you have hunger pains, you're not going to be able to focus on anything else. So it's a requirement to education. A requirement to learning is to be properly fed."

Wilferth said that need doesn't stop just because school is out for summer.

"We have to step in and fill the gap for these kids," Wilferth added. "And we need to love them in this way so they can grow and mature into whatever God created them to be."

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