Looking to end child hunger in the Chattanooga area, the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors (GCAR) is getting behind the local “Snack Pack” movement which puts food in the hands of more than 1,000 students per week in 12 different Hamilton County schools— a reach that is only expected to grow. Donating $20,000 to the Snack Pack program this year alone, GCAR will be lending long-term support to the cause with an annual $10,000 donation beginning in 2017.
“In the Chattanooga community, there are thousands of students who leave school on Friday without the certainty of knowing where their next meal is coming from,” said Janice Robertson, a GCAR member who founded the Snack Pack program in August 2014. “We needed a discreet way to make sure these children will not go hungry on days when there are no school lunches to rely on.”
Designed to meet the needs of children who may go without meals from Friday’s school lunch until Monday’s school breakfast, the Snack Pack initiative allows teachers to anonymously and discreetly place a “snack pack” in a selected child’s backpack every Friday. Each pack contains 10 staple food items that help children stay full through the weekend. The Snack Pack program also puts together larger packs of food for spring, fall, and Christmas breaks, providing each student a Christmas gift over the holiday season.
Partnering with the Chattanooga Food Bank to minimize food costs, the Snack Pack program is entirely volunteer-driven with every penny going toward the assembly and distribution of snack packs to Hamilton County schools. The community gathers at least once a month at East Brainerd Church of Christ to assemble snack packs, and new volunteers are always welcome. Just $80 feeds one child for an entire school year, and anyone can sponsor a child by writing a check noted with the Snack Pack initiative to East Brainerd Church of Christ.
“Over the past two years, we’ve grown significantly through the monetary and hands-on support of community members who share our vision of seeing children nourished and equipped to chase their dreams,” said Ms. Robertson. “Valuable partnerships like GCAR’s are what keep us going and these children fed.”
The Snack Pack program currently provides food for the following schools: Apison Elementary School, Barger Academy, Brown Middle School, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Chattanooga School For The Liberal Arts, East Brainerd Elementary School, Eastside Elementary School, Harrison Elementary School, Hunter Middle School, Red Bank High School, Wolftever Creek Elementary School and Woodmore Elementary School.
“Proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of children, and that’s why GCAR stepped up to support this effort to improve the future of Greater Chattanooga,” said Nathan Walldorf, Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors president. “Janice and the Snack Pack program are making a real difference in the lives of Chattanooga’s children, and we’re honored to partner with her passion and play a role in ending hunger in our community.”
To learn more, donate or volunteer with the Snack Pack program, contact Janice Robertson at 423-595-1093 or JaniceRobertsonHomes@gmail.com. Also, for more information about the Greater Chattanooga Association of Realtors, visit www.GCAR.net or follow GCAR on Facebook and Twitter.