Hunger was dealt a blow Friday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
With the new school year getting under way this week for students in Mount Airy, efforts are under way to support backpack programs at local campuses for those in need of food supplies.
One organization stepping up to the plate in this regard is the Mount Airy Rotary Club, which operates a backpack program as part of an ongoing mission by Rotary to combat hunger through a variety of ways.
This includes an annual project by Rotarians to fill 300 backpacks with food for school-age kids in the city, culminating with bags of items being given out Friday afternoon at the Madoc Center on Virginia Street.
The aim is to help underprivileged children fight hunger as they start the new school year.
“We do have a need in the community,” said Lenise Lynch, the coordinator of the RUSH program for the local club, which stands for Rotarians United to Stop Hunger, a widespread effort involving numerous community-based activities to provide food.
“We have a lot of children who are having to go home hungry,” added Lynch, who also heads up the backpack program of the Mount Airy Rotary Club.
Piggybacking on that continuous effort is the annual project to distribute nutritional supplies before the start of classes, which involved club members meeting Thursday night at Hampton Inn, where Lynch is manager, to fill sturdy blue bags with various items.
“All of the members of the Mount Airy Rotary Club contributed money or food to the project,” she said.
Lynch explained that the goal of the effort was supplying foods that kids can easily prepare on their own at home if need be, with the list including such items as Beef-a-Roni, Oodles of Noodles, macaroni and cheese, snacks and more.
Bags then were given out Friday at the Madoc Center in conjunction with a Back to School Bash held by the Mount Airy Housing Authority, which included children living in public housing receiving not only bags of food but school supplies.
A large crowd converged on the center around 3 p.m. along with Rotary and other volunteers, which quickly turned into a social gathering that included refreshments being served and fellowship as everyone prepared for the 2018-2019 academic year.
“It’s real good for the community,” said Barry Pilson, a parent attending the event with his son Christian, 6, a Tharrington Primary student who’d just received one of the food bags and was heading to a table containing school supplies.
“And it helps a lot — school supplies are expensive,” Pilson said. “Every little bit helps.”
While acknowledging that there is a problem with “food insecurity” in the local community, Lynch said the Mount Airy area is blessed with a number of organizations and individuals with the financial and other means to make a difference.
Their collective resources mean no child should ever have to go hungry, she believes.
Although the Rotary Club regularly spearheads programs to fight the problem, Lynch would like to see every non-profit organization in the area come together for a much greater impact.
“It would be a phenomenal community effort.”
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.