HANCEVILLE, Ala. – On Monday, students and faculty of the Wallace State Occupational Therapy (OT) program met with representatives of Alabama Credit Union to present them a donation of $830 for their Secret Meals for Hungry Children student feeding program, bringing OT contributions to the charitable cause to more than $3,300 for the 2019-20 school year.
According to the Secret Meals website, “Alabama Credit Union created the Secret Meals for Hungry Children program in 2008 with one goal in mind – decreasing the number of children in Alabama and Florida facing hunger over the weekend. Through partnerships with local food banks, our commitment has never been stronger. With one of the highest poverty rates in the country, 22 percent of both Alabama and Florida’s children live below the poverty level. Approximately 2,500 students are receiving Secret Meals food packs across the state of Alabama and into Florida. By partnering with local food banks, we are able to ensure hungry children have reliable access to nutritional food on the weekends. On average, $140 is the cost to provide a weekend food pack to one child, identified as going hungry, for an entire school year. To allow as many children to receive food packs as possible, Alabama Credit Union provides all promotional and operational funding for the Secret Meals program, meaning 100 percent of every penny donated goes toward the purchase of food packs.”
With Secret Meals representatives estimating a slightly increased current amount of $160 per student, the OT contribution will send 20 county and city students home each weekend of the school year with packs containing two servings each of milk, juice, cereal, easy-open canned pasta or other entrees and fruit.
The OT students sold calendars and took up donations to generate funds for their gift.
Asked why her class took on the project, class reporter Hailey Phillips said, “Being occupational therapy assistants, we serve those areas of kids that may be in need for early intervention. Some of these children that aren’t fed or (don’t) come from the greatest backgrounds are at risk for that, and we just think that it’s really important that these kiddos are getting food so they can come to school well-nourished, and so they can focus in class and make good grades.”
OT Instructor Rachel Gooch, who introduced the program to her students, said, “I’m extremely proud of them. Serving the children in this area has been a passion of mine since I graduated from this program, so to pass that on to them makes me tear up a little bit!”
Program Director Laura Smith added, “This is my first year as program director, so to come in and be able to have this kind of an impact on the community is just, it’s just awesome! I think that’s a big thing about Wallace State is that we’re huge on having an impact on the community, so it’s just really cool to do that.”
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