Column: Rotary ‘sacks’ student hunger

Volunteers with Gleaner’s “backsack” program.

Volunteers with Gleaner’s “backsack” program.

Every Friday – no matter what – they know the adults will come through.

A simple backsack containing a weekend’s supply of nourishment is available to any student who needs it. Off to the school bus for the ride home knowing that the prospect of hunger during Saturday and Sunday are now a forgotten thought of the past.

“I wish it weren’t true, but I’m proud Rotary is willing and able to step in and feed kids over the weekend,” said Peter Primason, Community Service Chair for Rotary Club of Carmel. “Most people are surprised to learn there is a nagging, hunger issue in Carmel. I know I was.”

Carmel Rotary President Ray Kramp said, “Three years ago we partnered with Gleaners Food Bank when we learned there were kids in our own community who were struggling over the weekend to obtain enough healthy, nutritious food. The ‘Backsack’ program provides a safety net for those kids.”

In partnership with Clay Township Trustee Doug Callahan, the local service club of 200 business men and women provide the funding which allows children in several Carmel area elementary schools to receive a wholesome variety of food every Friday before heading home.

And the Carmel Rotarians not only provide the money for the program, but the elbow grease to stuff the bags.

According to Primason, “Rotarians get together on a regular basis and travel to Gleaners in Indianapolis. We create an assembly line and fill the ‘backsacks.’ It is good for our members to know we are helping kids in our own community.”

As a matter of fact, Hamilton County is one of only 2 counties in Indiana where the funds for this project come entirely from the community they serve. In Carmel alone, about 100 students are supported each week. But, it is not always the same children from Friday to Friday.

Kramp said, “The Rotary motto is ‘To Serve.’ Since the economy has hit some of our school families hard with unemployment, we believe this program allows us to fulfill our commitment to the community.”