Subway is a backpack buddy

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By Laura Clark

The idea of a single child going without food for a day struck Kathy Wheeler as unacceptable. So Wheeler, owner of the Taylorsville Subway, is stepping up her involvement with the Backpack Buddies Program, and hoping to inspire more help around the community.

“What we want to do is become a drop-off location,” Wheeler said. “I want this to be an ongoing thing.”

The Backpack Buddies program sends students throughout the Spencer County Public School System home on Fridays with two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, two snacks and two drinks. It began around Thanksgiving 2008 with about 20 children.

“It just grew and grew and grew. Right now we’re holding steady at about 115,” said Kaye Lloyd, who works with the Family Resource Center and Youth Service Center.

Students from preschool through high school are referred by teachers or cafeteria workers or the FRC. The program runs on donations, both monetary and foodstuffs, and volunteers to put the bags together.

Several local churches help on an continuous basis, and the program recently received a small grant. In all, it can cost about $1,000 a month to make sure every child doesn’t go hungry.

Items sent home include single-serve spaghetti, soups and fruit cups, and cheese crackers.

“They’re all things that the kids can serve themselves,” Lloyd said.

Wheeler hopes to collect many of these items at Subway, and she’s added an incentive for the public.

“For every foot long that is purchased at regular price, if you bring in two or more of the items listed, we’ll give you a 10 percent discount,” she said.

This offer begins today and will continue, “until the kids are taken care of,” Wheeler said.

She also plans to advertise each time Backpack Buddies is in short supply for a particular item.

“I do not  have any children,” she said. “I guess that’s what I’m here for, is to help others out.”