Sonshine Backpack Ministry
The Sonshine Backpack Ministry was established in 2011. The goal is to provide food for school-aged children who are considered food insecure. Many children within the community are able to get food during the week due to the school’s free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs. However, the children are in desperate need of food during the weekends. Additionally, the need for these same children to have necessary personal hygiene items was identified and is being met by sending items such as toothpaste, shampoo, and soap to the homes on a monthly basis.
The school guidance counselors and social workers identify the students that would benefit from the backpack program. Once the students are identified, the school counselor sends home letters in order to get parental permission for them to participate in the program. This program is confidential; the names of the children and families that participate in the program are unknown.
The children from Mt. Pleasant Elementary and Mt. Pleasant Middle School receive weekly food bags filled with healthy food. However, due to the stigma associated with taking a food bag home, the high school students were reluctant to take a weekly food bag. Therefore, the Sonshine Backpack Ministry funds three food pantries at area high schools: Mt. Pleasant High School, Central Cabarrus High School, and The Opportunity School. During the 2017-18 school year the ministry provided approximately 1,300 weekly food bags.
This ministry benefits the children of our community. When a child is hungry, they are unable to focus and learn. However, when the basic need of having adequate nutritious food is met the child can learn and grow appropriately. Research has shown that when a child goes hungry over the weekend, it takes that child 2.5 days of regular meals for them to retain when they are learning. For example, if a child comes to school hungry on Monday, they are not ready to learn until Wednesday afternoon. Also, having the basic need of food will increase academic performance, school attendance, and improve physical and emotional health.
The congregation of St. John’s Lutheran Church has worked together to fund and support this ministry. Over the years other local congregations of various denominations have joined the effort. Many of our members are actively involved in packing the food bags, shopping for the food, and delivering the food to the school each week. Also, this is an intergenerational project for St. John’s Lutheran. From the youngest to some of the older members, many take part in helping this backpack ministry be successful. The ministry focuses on helping to meet the needs of the community and one of its most precious members - the youth.
The approximate cost to feed one child for the school year is $250.00. The following is a list of food items that are packed each week: Instant oatmeal or grits; Single Serving Cereal Boxes or Cups; 100% juice boxes; Shelf-stable milk (Individual Servings); Canned fruit (in light syrup or juice) or Fruit Cups; Canned Vegetables; Canned pasta (Ravioli or Spaghetti); Soups (Progresso Soup has the least amount of sodium and more nutritional value); Easy Mac and Cheese (Individual Packs); Shelf-stable pudding cups; Applesauce Cups; Granola Bars (Nut Free); Microwave Popcorn; Individual Snack Items; Bars of Soap; Shampoo and Toothpaste.
If you would like more information, please contact
Bonita Rowland:704-436-2062 (Home) 704-791-3223 (Cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org