Shippensburg has the potential to make a big difference in the lives of school children.
Eleven million children in the US come from food-insecure homes; children might not know where their next meal is coming from and often rely on lunches the school provides for their sustenance, according to the Economic Research Service at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Many children in the Shippensburg Area School District (SAMS) are a part of the statistic.
To help solve the hunger issue, the Shippensburg Community Resource Coalition founded Hound Packs, a meal program that provides seven meals over the weekend for school students.
Hound Packs is fighting for change in student food insecurity and to ensure no child in the district leaves school hungry.
Josh Stromberg, of AmeriCorpsVolunteers in Service to America(VISTA), works alongside volunteers and school counselors to guarantee the programs development. This is the third-year mark for Hound Packs’ service and Stromberg’s first year as he completes his 12-month position.
Stromberg coordinates the program from Shippensburg University in the First-Year Experience and Community Engagement Center. This allows them to find volunteers at Shippensburg University to aid college students in getting involved.
Stromberg will ensure that each pack is sent out every week while he will also accept donations of non-perishable food items. Included in the packs are two breakfasts, two lunches, three dinners and two snacks. Items such as a small box of cereal, soup, granola bars and mac and cheese can be found in the pack.
While there is an effort to add variety to the items, the program searches for non-perishable food that a student could prepare for themselves.
“We get donations from the community, anyone who wants to donate. Sometimes from companies, but a lot of times from the public,” Stromberg said. “It is important to the school district but mainly to the families.”
Angie McKee, a counselor at SAMS has worked closely with children who benefit from Hound Packs.
Each week, McKee meets with one of these qualifying students to provide them with their pack for the weekend.
“The program has created another avenue for the school counselors and school personnel of the district to form bonds with children, and make it much more likely that they would reach out to a trusted adult when they have a challenge in their lives,” McKee said.
One of the most important resources that Hound Packs rely on are local Shippensburg volunteers. Richard and Beverly Shumway, a retired couple, have found that volunteering with Hound Packs is an excellent way to give back and contribute to the community.
“We both have a place in our hearts for children,” Beverly Shumway said. “I was a schoolteacher and saw children in need, and my husband was a child in need.”
Some responsibilities volunteers take on include ordering food from a food bank, going to the food bank to pick up the items and picking out other items. This is then followed by two hours of inventory and meal planning before putting the packs together.
An average of 80 packs aredelivered to the school district each week.
The students who benefit from Hound Packs increases every year. This makes it even more crucial for the program to receive community and volunteer help. Hound Packs is working on ways to raise awareness of the program and encourage students to seek out help.
Agnibina Mitra, a graduate assistant at the Community Engagement Center, values her experience with the program and knows how important it is for students to get involved.
“One of our goals at the Community Engagement Center is how we can help the community in any way,” Mitra said. “This program gives an opportunity for our students at Shippensburg University to volunteer and get a real-world scenario on how to help the society.”
Stomberg urges the Shippensburg community to learn about Hound Packs and other food programs in the area.
“If you don’t have food or money to donate, you can donate your time,” Stromberg said. “And that’s really important for students, especially.”