Lamprey River Elementary School News

Weekend Food Program Coming to Lamprey River Elementary School
By Penny Williams 8-20-15

Come the start of school, some students in the Raymond School District won’t have to worry about what’s for dinner – or lunch or breakfast – over the weekend.

A program called “End 68 Hours of Hunger,” a private, not-for-profit effort to address the approximately 68 hours of hunger that some school children experience between the free lunch they receive in school on a Friday afternoon and the free breakfast they get at school the next Monday morning, will be offered at Raymond’s Lamprey River Elementary School (LRES).

Claire Bloom established the program in New Hampshire in 2011 to address childhood hunger. Sara Gates is the lead Project Coordinator for the Raymond chapter.

"We provide children with food for the weekend who would otherwise go without food,” Gates said. “There are approximately 68 hours between free school lunch on Friday and free school breakfast on Monday. We send home a bag of food on Friday afternoon, and the children bring it back Monday so we can clean it and repack it for the next Friday. Children that face food insecurity do not do as well in school on Monday and Tuesday, as they are suffering from headaches and stomach pains. This causes them to have poor attention in class and frequent visits to the nurse."

She said school social worker Kelley Corson and Ali Bousquin from Bethany Church heard of the program and wanted to see it come to Raymond. “They did not personally have the time to run the program,” she said. “Kelley made a presentation to the LRES PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) to ask if we would hold food drives for them if they got the program started. She said they still needed two program coordinators and a storage space. It instantly struck home with me and I volunteered to be a Project Coordinator.”

Gates and fellow project coordinator Tanya Martin are members of the Lamprey River PTO, but the program is neither PTO nor school based.

“I have witnessed children in our district that would benefit from the program and instantly wanted to help bring it to our school," Gates said.

The Project Coordinators are in charge of collecting donations - food or monetary, holding food drives, and shopping for food with the money they receive. They also pack the food bags for the children, making sure there are at least 3,000 calories in each, and that a specific bag follows any dietary restrictions a child may have. Although peanut butter is a main food sent home in the program, alternatives are found for children with allergies. Once the bags are packed they are delivered to the school.

"As our program grows, and if we get enough volunteers, I would oversee those people who help package food or come to a food drive," she said. "I also have to maintain all our records and get reports every month to the program's founder and executive director, Claire Bloom.”

The project coordinators will pack what they describe as easy to eat, kid friendly, high calorie food in cans or boxes. Although fresh fruit and vegetables are important, these items can't be stored easily and are not filling enough to sustain the child over the weekend, Gates said.

Items will differ slightly each week but will include such things as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, cereal, granola or snack bars, boxed macaroni and cheese, canned fruit, Pop-Tarts, ramen noodles, and canned tuna.

"The project coordinators drop off the packed bags at the school, and the school nurse will pass out the food to students," Gates said. "None of the volunteers will ever know who is in the program. We will just be given allergy information, and gender in case bags are gender specific - we won't send a bright pink bag home with a boy. We don't want to draw any attention to the children."

At this time, only Gates and Martin are committed to the program. Bethany Church has said it will hold food drives among its parishioners, and once the school year starts, the church hopes to send some of its parishioners to help pack the bags of food. The church hopes to stock the program for the month of September while organizers work on getting other donations. The Raymond Coalition for Youth has also said it will collect food for the program and try to get members to pack bags as well.

Hoped for donations from the program’s "shopping list" include: 18-ounce plastic jars of peanut butter; 20-ounce squeezable containers of jelly; 12- to 20-ounce canned Beefaroni, ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs and canned soup; boxes of macaroni and cheese; packages of ramen noodles; 3-4 serving size canned fruit; granola or nutrition bars; boxes or bags of five to eight servings of cereal; Pop-Tarts; and 10 ounce or smaller cans of tuna or chicken.

Any monetary donations will be spent on food for the children.

"We have yet to receive any donations, but we are just getting started, and hopefully as word of the program gets out, businesses will want to sponsor a week – at a cost of approximately $200 - or a child for a whole year at $420, and individuals will step forward to help as well," Gates said.

"We will be storing and packing the bags of food at the Raymond Baptist Church. They have an unused kitchen so we can keep everything in the cabinets.”

She is, however, looking for another location for a permanent 10-foot by 10-foot storage space, closet or room that locks, preferably climate controlled so the food doesn't freeze in the winter.

Gates anticipates the program will have about 20 children participating. Lamprey River has about 200 students receiving free or reduced lunch, and she expects about 10 percent of those families to apply to the program.

"If we get enough support we hope to eventually be able to help children in the middle school and high school as well," she said.

"We are also looking for places that would allow us to leave a large collection box with the "shopping list" of items that community members could drop off at any time,” Gates added. “Since 100 percent of our donations go to food for the children, we could also use help with advertising, stamps and envelopes, daily office supplies, etc. We also need about 20 plastic reusable shopping totes - not canvas for health reasons - to send the food home with the children."

People interested in applying to participate in the program should contact the school. Information should be going home at the start of the school year as well. Anyone looking to volunteer, donate, or hold a food drive can reach Gates at or 706-2584.

The “End 68 Hours of Hunger” program is already in effect in the New Hampshire communities of Alton (42 students), Barrington, 28; Canaan/Orange, 28; Conway, 83; Dover, 144; Exeter (Brentwood, East Kingston, Kensington, Newfields, Stratham), 87; Hampton, 35; Milton, 28; Nashua, 138; New Durham, 11; Newmarket, 26; Northwood (School Administrative Unit 44), 18;  Ossipee, Tuftonboro, Wolfeboro, 78; Oyster River (Durham, Lee, Madbury), 24; Portsmouth, 90; Rochester, 88; Rollinsford, 3; Salem, 40; Sanborn District (Newton, Kingston), 26 and Somersworth, 100.

Update on 8-24-15: The Raymond United Methodist Church has offered a year round storage solution with the possiblity of additonal space in the future.












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