By Jeff Horowitz
A local independent talent producer has teamed up with Disney Channel’s Jake Short to launch a national nutritional program for students at Village Academy.
Gregory James Blount, from Sound Tree Entertainment, and Short are sponsoring the Blessings in a Backpack program to keep students from going hungry on weekends and remove barriers to academic success.
“There’s no doubt that the meals are truly needed in this school community,” said Blount, who recently produced a public service announcement about the Blessings in a Backpack program. The PSA, starring Short and rising talent Olivia Osteen, was taped at televangelist Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston. Joel Osteen is Olivia’s uncle. “Hungry children are not prepared to learn, which is why ensuring they are well fed over the weekend is so important. This program will mean a lot to our community,” Bount said.
The idea is to send children home on the weekend with food items such as juice box and fruit snacks, macaroni and beef or spaghetti with tomato sauce or ramen noodles, oatmeal, apple sauce and a granola bar – staples and nutritious food that require little to no preparation – and they return with their backpacks on Monday ready to learn.
“If students are provided with several tools to succeed, they will see their success and they will see that everything in their lives will fit together,” principal Guarn Sims said.
Many of the students who are eligible for the program come from “working poor” families who do not qualify for additional benefits, organizers said.
The program will provide the school with backpacks and the food, which will be bought at a reduced price from a local grocery store partner. The program is scheduled to begin this month, Blount said.
Volunteers from the Avenue Church will pack the backpacks each week, organizers said.
More than $3,500 in donations has been collected to get the program started for 80 students, Blount said. He hopes to raise the remaining $2,900 to continue the program through the school year.
“It basically costs $80 per child, per year,” Blount said. “(A donor can) sponsor a child for a full year if they donate that much.”
To donate or to volunteer, call 561-404-4290.
ur Crowdtilt program worked and we are still taking on more donations, but we had several wonderful contributors and we made it over the 50% mark needed to tilt the campaign and soon begin feeding the 3rd graders at the Village Academy.
Here is a link to the donate site:
Jake and I are excited as in the next few weeks we will be able to start funding the program and get started. I know this will make a huge impact in the lives of these children. We are still taking on donations for the next 3 days, then the funds will be transferred to us and we can start the process.
I am putting our volunteer team from the Avenue Church in place. We just need to lock down the grocery partner and set a date.