Mother on mission to feed hungry youth

McDONOUGH — Michelle Morgan is on a mission to feed Henry County’s hungry youth.

The mother of three is a board member of Caring for a Cause Inc., a McDonough-based organization founded in 2009 to help support local families in need.

Last year, Morgan started a program under the Caring for a Cause banner to help feed children who get nourishment during the school day but get less of it when they go home on the weekends.

The program, Backpack Buddies, is under way at two local elementary schools where 33 youngsters receive snacks and meals to eat.

“I started it around February or March of last year,” she said. “We did a pilot run.”

The pilot worked out logistics in getting the food items home with children deemed most in need.

“The counselor knows in the school where the need is,” said Morgan. “She’s got families — some whose parents both work even — they make too much to qualify for some help, but she does know they have a need.”

Morgan spends about four hours each week shopping for food and packing it into grocery bags to deliver to the school counselors. They, in turn, place the bags into backpacks donated by another charity and distribute them among the students.

“It’s nutritious food,” Morgan said. “They are items that can be easily prepared by children.”

For each child, she packs two small boxes of cereal, a couple of pop tarts, snack crackers, juice boxes and containers of precooked beef stew or ravioli. Sometimes she packs cereal bars, fruit cups or pudding.

Morgan said she was inspired to start the program doing volunteer work for a friend.

“I have a real good friend who does this in Coweta County,” she said. “I felt led to do something like this in Henry County.”

Her friend, April Anderson, is the founder of the Senoia-based Backpack Buddies of Georgia. Anderson started the outreach charity at Senoia Vineyard Church, where her husband Brent Anderson is pastor.

“I know she serves over 100 (students),” said Morgan.

Morgan serves 33 children in Henry County. She said she hopes to expand the program to at least three more schools.

“I want to get in some more schools but I don’t want to commit to these schools until I have the capability to get them food,” she said.

She said she spends about $75 to buy food each week.

“I have friends and family who will donate food off and on,” she said. “I am currently trying to find some more sponsors.”

The program’s largest is McDonough First United Methodist Church. The church congregation regularly donates money for food and supplies. Employees at Peterbilt of Atlanta also donate food items to the cause.

Morgan is planning food drives to support the program. Those interested in becoming donors and sponsors of Backpack Buddies should call her at 770-231-4532.