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By Cynthia Haggitt
During the school year, school breakfasts and lunches can sustain at least two of the meals in the day that students should be getting in some cases for free or at reduced prices depending on the parent or guardian’s financial situation. But come Saturday and Sunday, food insecurity, which is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food, becomes an even bigger factor in some students’ lives. One local has taken it upon herself to ensure that students in the county don’t go home unsure of where or when their next meal might be through the creation of a program called the Weekend Power Pack.
LeaAnn Klaas who works at the Calhoun County school district and the founder of the Weekend Power Pack said, “Through seeing some kids and hearing some stories, I just know that there is not always enough at home. I just want to help out any way that we can.”
So one phone call was all that was needed last week as Klaas reached out to Walmart in Jerseyville and asked for a discount on groceries. When the manager of Walmart spoke with Klaas, they learned about how she has been supplying food for Saturdays and Sundays for children in her school district. Over the past couple months, she has reached out to the food pantries for help etc, but Klaas explained she was needing more help for her Weekend Power Pack program.
Blair Cromwell Director, Global Responsibility Communications Corporate Affairs for Walmart said,” When we asked how many children she has been caring for she told us 44. It broke our hearts, but because of this amazing woman, 44 children have had breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturdays and Sundays,” Our team quickly came together and volunteered to donate 80 meals to help her out. No child should ever go hungry!”
Cromwell mentioned that for over a decade, Walmart has made significant strides in improving food access for those in need through food donations and by strengthening the charitable meal system. In 2020 alone, Walmart stores, clubs and distribution centers in the U.S. donated more than 627 million pounds of food, 66% of which was fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats.
“We prioritize investments in rural geographies and underserved communities, especially those that experience disproportionate rates of food insecurity. We believe that no one should ever have to wonder where their next meal is coming from and that everyone deserves access to healthy options.”Cromwell said. “After speaking with the store manager, this was the first time this store has donated to the Weekend Power Pack program and the store plans to support in the future.”
Cromwell said that many stores, clubs and distribution centers have relationships with their local community organizations.
“Walmart has the means to help communities like Calhoun and volunteers like Klass can gain access to the local community grants and in-kind donations that we provide.” Cromwell said.
According to Walmart’s Facebook posting they are reaching out on social media with her permission to get more volunteers and help from the community.
If anyone is interested in helping out Klass, please reach out and continue to help support this amazing cause. The Weekend Power Pack program that Klass is in charge of, can be reached at Klaasgirls@gmail.com.