BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With Baltimore City school closures in place for the next two weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic, one local organization is making sure students and their families are not left hungry.
For the past five years, the non-profit organization, Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids, have supplied meals for food insecure kids in Baltimore City schools every week. The organization is 100-percent volunteer-run and partners with 28 schools in the city.
In an effort to protect students and staff amid the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Larry Hogan closed all public schools in the state from March 16 to March 27.
As a response, Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids is stepping up to the plate and going into its emergency plans to supply Baltimore City school kids and their families with bags of food to keep them fed while schools are closed.
“As soon as we heard about this, we got ready. Actually on Thursday when schools closed, we had 800 bags of food ready to go to the school,” said Sandie Nagel, Executive Director of Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids.
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“We ordered a lot of extra food the past week, we got more coming in the rest of the week — a big shipment coming in tomorrow, about seven to eight-thousand pounds,” said Alan Taylor, Director of Operations of Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids.
On a normal day, about 80 volunteers at a time are making bags of food, but because of CDC regulations, they’re limiting staff to only 10 volunteers in the facility every hour.
“We delivered over 1,000 bags, today, we’ll have another 1,000 bags delivered by this Friday” said Nagel.
Each bag of food can feed up to a family of four and last about four days.
“In a bag of food is always a quart of shelf stable milk, 18 ounce bag of cereal, theres always pasta, there’s vegetables, theres soups, theres ramen, there’s sausages,” said Nagel.
To enforce practicing good hygiene, each bag now includes a bar of soap, paired with instructions on hand washing.
On a normal week, organization leaders say it costs nearly $6,000 dollars to create bags of foods for schools. This past week, it cost nearly $20,000 dollars.
Weekend Backpacks for Homeless Kids says they plan to continue supplying food for as long as children and families need.
“First of all, hungry children can’t learn. second of all, hunger does not take time off for weekends or pandemics. So we have to be sure – our families are in such need right now. Most of those people who are working — these people are in industries that are closing,” said Nagel.