Program feeds bodies (and souls!) of struggling families

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Every Friday at Central Dauphin Middle School, there’s a special delivery. It’s 6,500 pounds of food from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank.

The food isn’t meant for the cafeteria, but for dinner tables across the district.
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“It’s very difficult for people to swallow their pride and admit that they can’t put food on the table for their families,” said Brad Peterson of the Food Bank.

A few days later, volunteers meticulously repack the food into backpacks, which are then discreetly sent home with students whose families struggle to find meals on the weekends.

It’s called NutriPacks and it was started by Central Dauphin Emotional Support Social worker Amy Snyder.

“Like most of us, people have a lot of pride and they don’t want to talk about it, and so we’re very appreciative that families will let us come to them and help them,” Snyder said.
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Through grants and private donations, they can buy food at a deeply discounted cost and give it to the students who desperately need it; students who often find it difficult to learn on an empty tummy.

“A lot of these bags go to my students in my classroom, students I work with every day,” Northside Elementary School teacher Alicia Dilger said. “So, it’s something that’s very important to me.”

“I mean we get kids that come in all the time and they say they haven’t had breakfast,” Northside teacher Amanda Rosencrance said. “And they look like they haven’t had dinner either.”

Each week, dozens of volunteers make it all possible.

“We don’t realize in our community how many children may be needy or hungry,” volunteer Dale Scott said.

For moms like Chanel Hueitt, it not only feeds her family, it feeds her soul.

“My children are excited to know there are people out there that are willing to help because sometimes it is a struggle to put food on the table for my family,” Hueitt said.

The program has expanded to all 13 elementary schools in the district, feeding 1,250 students each week. The program not only nourishes them, but teaches them a life lesson in compassion.

“We can’t always assume that somebody else is going to do something for families that are struggling and our role in society is to make sure we pay it forward to families who need it,” Snyder said.

If you’d like more information about the NutriPacks program or how to donate money or time, visit www.cdsdnutripacks.com.

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