First Steps to expand weekend meal program at Clinton Elementary

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By Reece Murphy

A grant by the Springs Close Foundation will allow Lancaster First Steps to significantly increase the number of at-risk children it feeds through its weekend backpack program at Clinton Elementary School.

First Steps started the meal program, which provides the school’s most needy students with weekend backpacks stuffed with nutritious food, in March 2012.

Originally, the non-profit was only able to provide backpacks for 25 Clinton students, with Lancaster High School Junior Civitans providing backpacks for an additional 25 through its own program.

Now, with the help of a $34,000 grant check presented by foundation president Angie McCrae on Thursday, Aug. 16, First Steps will be able to increase its program’s reach eight-fold to meet the needs of 200 students in 4K through first grade.

Lancaster First Steps Executive Director Lora Bryson said the program was glad to be able to serve the needs of even more at-risk students at the county school where the need is greatest.

“If you don’t fulfill the nutritional needs of these children, then they don’t learn,” Bryson said. “It’s a first need, and Lancaster First Steps is glad to be able to help where there’s the greatest needs of at-risk children.”

McCrae said the money was part of a program to fight local hunger that started when legendary rocker Bruce Springsteen, in the area for a concert appearance in Charlotte, donated $50,000, which the foundation matched.

“Bruce Springsteen said he would match $50,000 to feed hungry kids,” McCrae said. “So then and there, that meant there would be more kids whose needs we could address, so we said, ‘We’ll do it.’”

Bryson said food for the program will be provided through the Second Harvest Food Bank in Charlotte. While much of the program’s needs have been met with the grant, there is still one outstanding need that needs to be met – and this is where the public can help.

“Yes, we’re happy to receive this grant, but now we need volunteers,” she said. “We need folks who will be willing to stuff and sort the backpacks, and then we need help transporting the backpacks. It should only be about two to three hours a week on Thursdays.”

Anyone interested in helping with the backpack meal program should call Bryson at (803) 286-8000.


Contact Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151