Randy Orwig, senior pastor at Elon Community Church, is painfully aware of the fact there are children who go without proper nutrition when school’s out of session.
Randy’s wife, Beverly, is a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Turrentine Middle School and she has seen firsthand how a few days off can impact children who receive free and/or reduced lunch.
“Following the bad winter we had, a lot of kids were out of school and some of these kids, we discovered, went without meals,” he said.
Sixty percent of the 23,000 students enrolled in the Alamance-Burlington School System (ABSS) are enrolled in the free and/ or reduced lunch plan this year; that’s a 3 percent increase from last year, said Danielle Woodall, lead school social worker for ABSS.
“As a community, we can do better than this,” Orwig added.
The Alamance County Backpack Program provides nonperishable meals to schoolchildren on the weekends, holidays and other days when they may not be able to receive a hot meal. Elon Community Church is involved in the program but Orwig said, “we had some church members who were very moved by the fact this is a real need in our community and they wanted to do something.”
Bob Martin, May’s Cook of the Month and an area attorney, attends Elon Community Church and pitched the idea to the Times-News of uniting the Cooks of the Month for an event to benefit the Alamance County Backpack Program.
Cooks For Kids will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 24 in the Community Life Center at Elon Community Church, 271 N. Williamson Ave., Elon, and is presented by the church and the Times-News.
Food will be prepared by current and former Cooks of the Month including Eddie Boswell, Anita Davis, Times-News $2 Dinners columnist Penny Hawkins, Rebekah Barringer Kaczmarek, Times-News classified inside sales consultant Angel Little, Bob and Connie Martin, Susan Osborne, Debbi Kennerson-Webb and members of the Alamance Community College Culinary Department.
The Haw River Pleasure and Social Club will perform and Martin said “there will be presenters and videos about the problem of food insecurity in Alamance County.”
Tickets are $14 (pays for one weekend of food for two children); $28 (pays for a month of food for one child) and $56 (pays for a month of food for two children). Tickets can be purchased at Fired Up Pizza, 3243 S. Church St., Burlington; Roasted Coffee Depot, 131 W. Elm St., Graham; Tickle My Ribs, 1183 University Drive, Burlington and the Times-News, 707 S. Main St., Burlington.
Woodall said the selection process for participants in the backpack program is done in a discreet and confidential way.
“There’s a lot of need,” Woodall said.
Funds, Orwig said, will go to seed money for churches to establish their own backpack ministries for area schoolchildren.
“This is a community-wide event and we welcome support from other churches and the community,” he said. “This city and area is a patchwork of care and we’re getting the chance to come together and help each other. We’re hoping this seed money will help us get full coverage of as many schools as we can.”
For more details on Cooks For Kids, call (336) 584-0391 or text “KIDS” to (336) 656-2022.