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A local church has started a program to help feed local school children who may be going home to empty cupboards.

Packin for Packs was started by members of the Faith Cowboy Church in order to assist with the Backpacks program that many area schools already have in place. The Backpacks program sends students in need home with donated food items. However, the program does not always have an adequate supply of food for every student that may need it.

Ron Rothlisberger, pastor of Faith Cowboy Church, explained that he had visited some area schools and was made aware of many local children who were not receiving adequate meals at home and in some cases didn’t have access to any food at all.

“Just between Bismarck, West County, and North County Elementary schools, there are over 200 kids going home without food on every Friday ... We want to make sure they’ve got something to eat.”

“The church is just a venue or host for the program... any money that comes in goes to the Packin for Packs [fund] ... no money goes to the church whatsoever," Rothlisberger said.

The program is a 501(c)(3) charity separate from all church accounts.

The church has partnered with Meals for a Million, a co-operative food packaging organization that produces and distributes meals throughout Missouri to those in need.

“The Meals for a Million program has linked us up with contacts for getting the bulk product to pack,” said Rothlisberger.  

The first packing event will take place at the Faith Cowboy Church on May 11 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event will consist of 10 packing tables with 10 people at each table. Participants can come and go as they please There will be time slots throughout the day with volunteers packing for an hour or more or whatever their schedule allows, explained Rothlisberger. A $30 donation is requested but not required. Each participant will receive a free T-shirt with the Packin for Packs logo on it.

Those who choose to donate can receive a tax-deductible receipt as well.

“We’re looking for packing partners, not just people to donate. We want people to be involved as a community.” the pastor said.

The meals packed and distributed include large bags containing six servings of cinnamon oatmeal or macaroni and cheese.

The church has already put in $10,000 toward the effort. Rothlisberger said they are aiming to raise $40,000 initially, which will allow the group to pack 100,000 meals feeding 2,400 students a week for 41 weeks.

Rothlisberger said he hopes to see the program continuously grow and they will pack as many meals as donations allow.

For more information on how to get involve, register a time-slot to pack, or make donations visit www.faithcowboychurch.faith

Or you can Rothlisberger at 573-315-7260 for information.

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com.

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