Food Bank of Eastern Michigan working to feed students on snow days

GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (02/19/19) - Snow days don't only keep students from their classes on a particular day.

For many needy families, it keeps students from their primary food source -- the school lunch counter. That creates food insecurity as families struggle to feed their children.

The Food Bank of Eastern Michigan is trying to change that and get food to students when they aren't in school.

Tuesday was the 11th snow of the school year for many school districts across the state. A day off from school is not something every child looks forwards to.

"When it snows outside and they think they're going to have a snow day, that means they might not have breakfast or lunch at school," said Kathleen Payton, the program manager for the food bank. "So then the moms are already struggling and the families are trying to figure out what I am I going to feed my kids today?"

Nearly 7,000 children in Genesee County are signed up for the Back Pack program offered by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.

"The backpack program is used to make sure that children are eating over the long weekend," Payton said. "It fills that gap in the federally funded programs that we already have in place at the schools so children, take home a bag every single Friday and it's filled with two breakfast, two lunches and two dinners and several snacks."

No school could have meant those children didn't receive their backpacks for the weekend or enough food to eat during the week.

"Five days without food for many of them," Payton said.

Payton said getting those backpacks to those children has been a priority.

"We've been delivering to the schools -- as many schools as we can get in contact with -- and making sure that the food is still getting delivered," she said.

Payton said Flint Community Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez worked with his staff on distributing food to students during the week-long school closure from Jan. 28 to Feb. 1.

Flint schools hosted two free lunches at Southwestern Academy that week and passed out backpacks of food, as well.

Payton said they are looking at creating a plan to get meals to students during state of emergency snow days

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