Buddy Bags is a nonprofit organization in the Lincoln County R-III School District that provides food to children in need.
Founded in 2012, Buddy Bags offers donated, nonperishable foods for students to take home over the weekend. The bags contain two breakfasts, two lunches, and four snacks for the child to have over the weekend when they may not otherwise have access to food.
Director of Elementary Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, Amy Porter has been involved in the Buddy Bags program for eight years.
“We try to keep it confidential. Every week on Friday, the child goes down to the office with their backpack and we put the bag inside their backpack so no one knows. It’s very discreet,” said Porter.
Buddy Bags is run solely on donations of food and money. Collection boxes can be found around Troy at various businesses such as Mennemeyer Orthodontics, Imo’s Pizza, Troy Flower Shop, Troy Police Department and more.
“The community really helps with donations. About 20 places around Troy have collection boxes set up where people can go and drop off items,” Porter said.
Buddy Bags typically feeds 400 children a week, but when COVID-19 hit, 700 children were in need.
“The biggest stumbling block was that we weren’t able to order in bulk and grocery stores only allowed each individual a certain amount of items per transaction,” Porter said.
Due to the limitations, Porter asked community volunteers for help. Volunteers would go to stores and get as many of one item as they could get. Every week they would focus on a different item, until they were stocked up enough to fill bags.
Volunteers typically fill the bags until the school year begins, then students get involved.
“Normally we have students fill the bags throughout the school year. We like to involve the students in service and learning,” Porter said.
Dr. Amy Salvo, Director of Social Emotional Learning and Support is transitioning to take over as the director of the Buddy Bags organization.
When asked what this program means to her, Salvo said, “I love the fact that our children now don’t have to worry about one of their most basic needs being met. It also makes me think of the quote by Helen Keller, ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.’”
For more information on where to donate or volunteer contact Porter at firstname.lastname@example.org, or check out the Buddy Bags Facebook page @buddybagstroyr3.