More than snacks: Volunteer program keeps students fed through the weekends

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BURRILLVILLE – They’re affectionately nicknamed “The Go Go’s,” by one resident because they’re always on the move. Another calls them “the bag ladies,” a name – they say jokingly – that they’re a little less fond of.

By any name, they’re doing great work.

Burrillville Parks and Recreation Director Andrea Hall, and resident volunteers Holly Bisson and Sue Gaudreau spend each Friday morning delivering Weekend Snack Packs – bags of food that will keep hungry Burrillville students fed each week through their two days off.

The team delivers the bags to all five public schools in town – a total of 36 this week. The bags are packed for up to 12 weeks at a time by a group of around ten volunteers, including several from Berean Baptist Church.

“When we started doing this, there was no start up money,” said Hall.

The program, which has been run by the volunteers for the past five years, would cost around $700 a month to keep operational if it wasn’t for donations.

The group began distributing the Weekend Snack Packs in 2013, after an organization that previously ran the program dissolved abruptly due to lack of funding. The program is now run in collaboration with the church, along with Jesse Smith Library and the Burrillville Lions Club, and receives no town funding.

The groups take contributions of non-perishable food and snacks year round, donated by residents or collected at the schools.

Teachers and nurses are the first line of defense, noticing if a student is in need and hungry, and they’ll talk to the parents to see if they’re interested in the weekend food supplement.

From left, Holly Bisson. Sue Gaudreau and Andrea Hall deliver bags of food for hungry students.

“Sometimes, a student will say didn’t have breakfast,” Hall said.

The bags are grabbed anonymously, and in past years, middle schoolers were hesitant to take them. The school recently got a new nurse, however and now the crew delivers eight bags for hungry kids each week. At Callahan Elementary School, they drop off 11.

Once a year, the group solicits local businesses and holds raffles at events like the Family Fair.

“I keep an inventory of all the food that comes in,” Hall said.

Thanks to the generosity of the community, they’ve never fallen short.

“It’s just worked out that we’ve had enough,” Hall said.

Non-perishable food donations are always needed, and those interested in helping are asked to drop off items from the following list at the library, or the Parks and Recreation office at 92 North Main St.

Single serve cereal
Single serve oatmeal/cream of wheat packets
Fruit cups
Single serve apple sauce
Instant breakfast packets
Raman noodles
Saltine/Ritz crackers
Mac & cheese (boxes or single serve)
Peanut butter
Jelly
Canned kid’s meals (spaghetti o’s with meatballs, beefaroni etc.)
Tuna
Canned chicken
Canned spaghetti sauce with meat
Pasta
Canned soup with meat
Granola bars
Fruit snacks
Peanut butter crackers
Cheese & Crackers
Pop Tarts
Single serve raisins
Pudding cups
Microwave popcorn
Graham crackers
Juice boxes
Shelf stable single serve milk boxes

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