Peanut Butter & Jelly Project aims to bridge summer hunger gap for local kidsJune 14, 2010
ATHENS - Trimble and Federal Hocking School Districts are among the poorest in the state. Over 65% of the students in these districts qualify for free or reduced breakfast and lunch. During the summer months, these children lose this much-needed subsidy. “Hunger is so real for many of our children in Athens County,” says Kerri Shaw, a school social worker for Athens County Children Services who is based at Trimble Elementary. The Peanut Butter & Jelly Project aims to provide 1200 children in the Trimble and Federal Hocking school districts with PB & J this summer.
Athens County Children Services is looking for donations of unopened jars of peanut butter and jelly to provide to these children over the course of the summer. Beginning June 8, qualifying families will receive a weekly supply of peanut butter & jelly. For each child in the household, the family will be eligible to receive one jar of peanut butter, one jar of jelly, and one loaf of bread each week for the duration of the project.
Athens County Children Services is collaborating on the PB&J Project with school Principals Kim Chadwell of Federal Hocking and Mary Mitchell of Trimble. The project originated last year through the efforts of Kerri Shaw and Mary Mitchell. Says Shaw, “Each spring, we would dread the summer months because we knew so many families struggled to keep food in the cupboards for their children. I organized a meeting and invited some key players from the county. We met and, within an hour, had a plan, volunteers and funding. It was the most productive meeting I have ever been in, which tells me that we were meeting a need apparent to all. “ Assisting with the first year of the PB&J Project were Athens County Department of Job and Family Services, 317 Board, Children and Families First Council and local food pantries.
“What I like about the project is that children can prepare their own sandwiches. They don't have to depend on anyone to prepare it for them,” said Shaw. “PB & J is filling, fairly nutritious, protein-rich and shelf-stable. It's an accessible meal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
Response to the project has been overwhelmingly positive so far, with a cash gift of $1000 from Athens Noon Rotary, 140 pounds of peanut butter and jelly donated by the employees of Hocking Valley Bank, and 80 jars donated by Alpha Phi Omega members. Numerous local organizations and business have offered to host donation boxes for the project. Inhale Yoga Studio and the Athens Wellness Cooperative are also offering discounts on their services with a donation of PB & J by clients.
For more information on the Peanut Butter and Jelly Project, please contact the Athens County Children Services at (740) 592-3091.