Snack Pack program makes sure kids have food on weekends
A Chattanooga woman is making sure children in-need have something that many people take for granted.
When Janice Robertson heard that kids in the community were going hungry on weekends, she decided to do something about it.
"We heard a story about a young man who came back to school during exams. He’d made straight A’s and didn't need to be there. When he got to school that day, he asked the principal if he could have some food. That's the reason he came back to school because he had no food to eat and that is right here in dear old Chattanooga, Tennessee,” Robertson told Channel 3.
Robertson says she continued to hear stories from her son, a Hamilton County principal, and they broke her heart. She wanted to help.
With the support of her church, East Brainerd Church of Christ, Robertson started the Snack Pack Program.
“I started it in my dining room and then it grew to a closet at the church,” said Robertson.
The program began with no funding but Robertson was determined to make it work.
"We didn't know where the money was coming from. People would just offer Janice checks at different places,” said Anita Kapperman who helped Robertson start the program.
Kapperman was able to buy the food at a low rate.
Robertson would speak to organizations and private donors to try to secure enough money to keep the program going.
Five years later, the all-volunteer program has a $150,000 budget and is helping many hungry children in Hamilton County.
“We started with 150 bags a week. We're now at 1,870 bags per week. We service 14 different schools in Hamilton County. We've also helped five different churches start a program,” said Robertson.
The first Wednesday of each month, volunteers meet at the church to fill bags with food.
Those bags are delivered to schools each Friday and include protein, fruit, milk, breakfast items and a snack.
“Attendance goes up on Friday because the students know their snack packs are coming out on Friday. As the students are there more, test scores go up, schools improve, it’s just a great thing all the way around,” Kapperman told Channel 3.
East Brainerd Church of Christ gives the program $50,000 a year. The Greater Chattanooga Realtors’ board donates $10,000 and the rest comes from ministries, churches, organizations and private donors.
Robertson, who also works full-time as a realtor, raises money for the program on her own.
“I don't think at the age I was when I started this that I thought I could do it; but, I'm a very determined person and once I start something, I'm going to finish it and that's just kind of my motto,” she told Channel 3.
The program is in need of more volunteers and more donations to feed hungry children.
Robertson says the bags cost approximately $2 each and a donation of just $80 is enough to feed a child for an entire school year.
If you’d like to help, contact Janice Robertson at (423) 595-1093 or click here to send her an email. You can also write a check to East Brainerd Church of Christ for Snack Packs.
If you're interested in volunteering, you can show up at the church, located at 7745 E. Brainerd Road on the first Wednesday of the month.
Stay with the WRCB for more ways on how you can make a difference.