Sept. 20, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Bonnie Prigge or Connie Willman, 573-265-2993
MCEC receives $45,900 grant to conduct 84-county backpack program study
ST. JAMES – Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) and 14 other Regional Planning Commissions (RPC) will be conducting surveys of Friday backpack programs, thanks to a Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) grant secured by Meramec Community Enhancement Corp. (MCEC).
Luci Flaim, a community development specialist with MRPC, explained the project to the MRPC board during its regular board meeting Sept. 8, 2011.
The $45,900 project will target the 84 Missouri counties served by MFH. The Kansas City area is not a part of the project.
In Missouri, childhood hunger and the issue of food instability has become an increasing concern. The Friday backpack program is one tool that helps combat this issue.
The program provides backpacks full of food for students to take home from school on Fridays until the next school week of meals. Many of the students who participate in the program also participate in the free or reduced lunch programs at school.
Preventing hunger has been a rising focus of the state of Missouri. If hunger can be kept minimal, it has been shown that students’ attendance rates will increase, and grades will improve, Flaim said.
MFH, created in 2000, is the largest health care foundation in Missouri and serves 84 counties and the city of St. Louis, Flaim explained.
Funding for this project was provided in whole by MFH. The Foundation is a philanthropic organization whose vision is to improve the health of the people in the communities it serves.
During the statewide backpack program assessment, MRPC staff will create a survey to report on the status and range of existing backpack programs, needs of the programs, and any program gaps. The final report will include data showing the impact of the backpacks correlating with the overall issue of hunger in the state.
MCEC will partner with the remaining RPCs to complete the 384 school district surveys. In the Meramec Region, 29 school districts will be surveyed. Each RPC will be responsible for contacting its regional school districts and administering the survey with each backpack program director.
After survey data has been collected in October, the RPCs will meet to discuss statewide results and how to partner with MFH in the future.
A final report is expected by February or March for the project.
For more information on the backpack study, contact Flaim at MRPC at 573-265-2993 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other business, the board:
Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. A professional staff of 28, directed by the MRPC board, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.
The MRPC board will meet at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 13 at its office at 4 Industrial Drive in St. James. All meetings are open to the public.