Whitehall-Coplay Press

Monday, January 27, 2020

Fighting Hunger: Volunteers continue Snack Pack Pals’ mission for fourth year

Wednesday, January 16, 2019 by Shari Noctor Special to The Press in Opinion

It has been four years since Leah Saliby, an eighth-grade English teacher, launched the Snack Pack Pals program in the Whitehall-Coplay School District. This program helps alleviate food insecurity for children attending the school district. This program originally began providing food for 50 students identified by district guidance counselors as being most food insecure at home. They received snack packs during the five long weekends of the school year: Thanksgiving, winter break, Presidents Day weekend, spring break and Memorial Day weekend.

This year, Saliby is feeding almost 200 students each month! There are more students who are food insecure, not only in Whitehall and Coplay, but in every county in our nation. This national crisis occurs for a myriad of reasons, some of which we are not immediately equipped to solve.

Although Snack Pack Pals cannot solve food insecurity, it can address it by feeding the hungry students in our school district, and that is what the program, now in its fourth year, has been doing.

Hunger directly affects one’s ability to learn. I am very grateful to Dr. Lorie Hackett, WCSD superintendent, who recognized the district’s food insecurity issue and addressed it by starting a breakfast program in the district three years ago.

Many students now have access to better nutrition throughout the school day — but what about when there is no school that day? Saliby has taken this one step further by helping children over the long holiday weekends.

If you would like to donate food to the Snack Pack Pals program, this is what is urgently needed: 8-ounce boxes of shelf-stable milk, cheese/peanut butter cracker packs, peanut butter to-go packs, ravioli microwaveable bowls and small boxes or sealed bowls of cereal. Other items packed monthly and also needed include macaroni and cheese (boxes and bowls), Chef Boyardee (cans and microwaveable bowls), fruit and applesauce cups, fruit snacks, juice boxes/pouches, graham crackers, granola bars and small boxes of raisins. Drop-off locations are at the Whitehall-Coplay Middle School office, both the Whitehall and Coplay public libraries, Whitehall Township Municipal Building and Re/Max Unlimited Real Estate, across from the Whitehall post office.

If you would like to volunteer to help in the Snack Pack Pals room by unloading and checking inventory or packing the monthly bags, the Snack Pack Pals room is open nearly every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Visit signupgenius.com, where you will find Snack Pack Pals and can sign up to volunteer for a specific day or days.

If you would like to give a monetary donation, write out a check payable to Whitehall-Coplay Hunger Initiative and mail or deliver it to 1080 Schadt Ave., Whitehall 18052. Snack Pack Pals is part of the Hunger Initiative. We are a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and your donation may be tax deductible.

We are eternally grateful for all the donations, the collecting sites for donations and the support of food drives from public and private organizations in the Whitehall-Coplay area. We’re most grateful for all of our school-aged children. They do not cause the hunger problem, but many must face it every day. Can you put yourself in their shoes?

Editor’s note: This article was co-written with Saliby.