Funding supports BackPack program

Published 9:32 am Friday, December 17, 2010

Participating in the check presentation ceremony are Southampton County Schools Superintendent Charles Turner (left), Capron Elementary School Principal Sandra Pettigrew, Southampton Memorial Hospital CEO Phil Wright, Dianne Vick, Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia Chief Financial Officer Karen Joyner and school counselor Dr. Carolyn Wyatt.

CAPRON—Wide-eyed Capron Elementary students “oohed” and “ahhed” Tuesday when they learned a $4,500 grant would pay to feed 80 of their fellow students from low-income homes when they’re not in school.

The funding over three years will help support the school’s BackPack Program, which sends backpacks of food home with children on weekends and certain school breaks. The national program was developed after a school nurse noticed a marked increase in stomachaches and headaches on Mondays among children who hadn’t eaten enough over the weekend.

Dianne Vick, who works for Sodexo at Southampton Memorial Hospital, applied for the grant through the company. Vick’s children attended Capron Elementary, and she was excited when her daughter came home and told her the school had a BackPack Program.

“Sodexo is all about feeding the hungry, and we wanted to make sure that we could make a difference in our community,” Vick said. “I wanted this program to continue because I love this school.”

The BackPack Program is administered through the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and serves 33 schools in Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, according to Karen Joyner, the Foodbank’s chief financial officer.

Joyner said the program focuses on schools with a high percentage of students receiving free and reduced-price lunches because those students may not get proper meals at home.

“So the fact that they’re getting this food over the weekend and during certain school breaks is very important so we’re very blessed to have the support of Sodexo at Southampton Memorial Hospital,” Joyner said.

On Tuesday, Vick presented a $2,000 check to Joyner. Next year, the grant will pay $1,500 and the year after that, $1,000. Joyner said the program costs about $100 per child per school year. About 80 students at Capron participate in the program.

“We’ve received some other funding also, so this pretty much helps us be fully funded in this location for this year,” she said.

Capron Elementary School Principal Sandra Pettigrew called the partnership with the hospital and the Foodbank “a phenomenal community effort.”

“We will enjoy the backpacks, I assure you,” she said. “They mean so much.”

About 50 students at S.P. Morton Elementary School in Franklin also participate in the BackPack Program.

Also on hand for Tuesday’s check presentation were Southampton County Schools Superintendent Charles Turner, Southampton Memorial Hospital Chief Executive Officer Phil Wright, Diane Hall from Sodexo at Southampton Memorial Hospital, school counselor Dr. Carolyn Wyatt and Anne Williams, the hospital’s director of marketing.