Weekend Snackpac supporting students

Drew Veskauf Times Newspapers
Jerry Bauer, left, and Trevor Nigus serve residents wanting to support the Weekend Snackpac program at a fundraiser Friday at Pearce Community Center. The program began as an outreach of First United Methodist Church and has picked up partners along the way, including Pearce.

Helping kids eat in Chillicothe has evolved into a community effort. Chillicothe First United Methodist Church and Pearce Community Center have partnered together in the stuggle against hunger.

The two organizations held its Weekend Snackpac fundraiser Friday to help raise funds for the program to help South Primary School and Chillicothe Elementary Center students on the weekend.

“It’s to bring awareness to the community about the program. It’s going great. (Pearce) has partnered up with us and it’s going well,” Kim Whitehouse of Chillicothe First United Methodist Church said.

“The whole premise is to help them out over the weekends. They don’t have the free breakfast or lunch at the school, so we’re trying to help the whole family out over the weekend and supply the food that they need.”

The church and community volunteers provided 221 Snackpacs in its last shipping, Whitehouse said.

The program recently received a check for $4,500 from United Way through Pearce Community Center.

“Pearce was very instrumental in getting that for us, which was very helpful. We’ve also had a nice donation from the Chillicothe Township,” Doug Olson of Chillicothe First United Methodist Church said.

“Pearce has been very supportive. Ben Alvarez, he went to bat for us to get the donation from United Way. That was very helpful.”

Through the donations and help from the MidWest Food Bank in Peoria, the Snackpac program has been able to keep its costs down. Olson said they were told the cost per Snackpac would be around $3, but the church has been able to keep it down around $2.

“It’s actually significantly lower than what our original budget or original forecast was when we were told by others who have done Snackpacs,” Olson said.

The Snackpacs are non-perishable items in self contained packages.

“It’s pretty well balanced and pretty nutritious type stuff,” Olson said. “Once in a while we’ll put in a treat at Halloween or Christmas.”

Pearce Community Center has been increasing their awareness and participation with the Chillicothe youth recently, Alvarez said.

“We have a heightened interest in the school-kid atmosphere,” Alvarez said.

“In October, we started a homework help program and tutoring program. Affordable and available for the lower-income families at little or no charge and feeding kids is a part of it. Hungry kids don’t learn. So, we’re just proud to be part of it.”