The Foundation launches pilot program in Algonac

Posted on March 30, 2016

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County and Algonac Schools have ramped up a new pilot program that will help eliminate barriers that students face in regards to food and basic necessities, in order to allow student to focus on learning and succeed in school.

“Some people may be surprised at the way a lack of access to healthy food and basic necessities impacts learning on an everyday basis,” said Algonac Schools Superintendent, John Strycker.

Based originally off of the Friday Backpack Program, which is a popular program throughout Michigan that currently sends over 6,000 (1,100 kids in St. Clair County) kids in 134 (15 in St. Clair County) schools home with backpacks full of food on weekends, the Community Foundation utilized a capacity building grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation in Grosse Pointe Farms to envision a new approach at providing food and necessities to children.

“Our Community Foundation, like others, has seen an emerging need to support the basic needs of students throughout the entire year,” said Lindsay Parslow, Community Foundation of St. Clair County program officer.  “We know that if students are worried about basic needs and their next meal, they are not focused on learning.  With our new priority focus on supporting healthy lifestyles and a cradle to career approach, this program is filling a gap that will ultimately give more kids an opportunity to succeed in school and in life.”

The Algonac Friday Food program was originally serving 96 students every week prior to the launch of this new pilot program.  Now locally called “Fueling the Future”, the support from the Wilson Foundation has allowed the program to grow and it now reaches nearly 400 students every week.  The biggest adjustment to the Friday Food program was including high school students with an emphasis on those homes with more than one child in need of support. 

The program has also set up resource closets in all of the buildings to provide students with other basic needs items they may need throughout the year.  Students can access the resources anytime during the week, or through a school staff member.  Items available include school supplies, backpacks, shampoo, body wash, toothbrushes, toothpaste and a number of other basic necessities.  Other items, such as coats or boots are available upon request.

The program has already brought together volunteers and community groups.  The Algonac Rotary Club and the Algonac Lions Club have donated supplies to stock the closets along with cash to purchase needed equipment.  With the increase in food being provided there is also a need for more volunteers.  Each week volunteers have been showing up- from school board members and Rotary club members to students, and a Woman’s Life Group. 

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