The Rutherford County Schools Backpack Program provides over 1000 bags of food each week during the school year for students who live in homes where adequate food is often not available. School-level coordinators tackle the logistics of helping to secure donations, packing bags for each week, and ensuring discreet distribution to students in need.
Truck Service, Inc. in Forest City provides transport of Second Harvest Backpacks from Charlotte to their local warehouse at no cost to the school system. The Rutherford County Schools Maintenance Department and Outreach Specialists then distribute these bags to each individual school.
RHI Legacy Foundation pays for supplies for 405 of those bags, plus the salary for a coordinator who is employed by Rutherford County Schools. The Foundation’s Annual Golf Classic provides one source of funds for that project. The 2017 Classic generated almost $52,000 in proceeds for the Backpack Program. Additional funds are awarded to the program through grants from the Foundation.
Almost 600 additional bags are provided each week by local faith communities, food drives and donations from local businesses and individuals.
“We organize the golf tournament, but it is the individual players and sponsors that make the event financially successful”, explained Jill Miracle, Community Impact Director for RHI Legacy Foundation. “We appreciate the participation of many local and regional businesses who support the tournament, year after year. In 2017, several school employees served as volunteers for the Classic. That made our partnership even more valuable.” The 31st Annual Golf Classic took place on September 29 at Cleghorn Golf and Sports Club, with 31 sponsors. Major contributors were The Robert and Janice McNair Educational Foundation, Main Street Financial Group, and Rutherford Regional Health System and the Rutherford Regional Auxiliary. Other sponsors included Friends of John Condrey, Holland Furniture Company, McGill Associates, Odom Engineering and Wells Fargo Private Bank.
Research shows that food-insecure students between six and eleven years of age score lower than their food-secure peers on a measure of child intelligence, are more likely to see a child psychologist, have a harder time getting along with their peers, are more likely to repeat a grade, and score lower on standardized tests than their non-food-insecure classmates. Children with poor nutrition are sick more often too, leading them to miss classes. The Backpack Program is one avenue to help students to perform at their best in school and to prepare them for a successful future.
Supporting the Backpack Program is an important part of RHI Legacy Foundation’s work. When they first organized in 2014, the board members recognized immediately that access to food was an urgent component of improving the health of Rutherford County. In addition to the Backpack Program, the Foundation supports the work of soup kitchens, local food pantries and the home-delivered meals program through the Senior Center.
Jill Miracle continued, “In the coming year, we will advance ideas that provide access to fresh, healthy food for all of the county’s residents. However, basic needs can continue to be met through successful programs like the Backpack Program. We are pleased to support their efforts through our tournament and our grants process.”
Lisa Bralley, (Center) Backpack Coordinator, joined by Outreach Specialists Leslie Canipe and Victoria Harrison
Sponsors are recognized at the 31st Annual Golf Classic, presented by RHI Legacy Foundation