ALTOONA - With the help of assistance programs, many school children are able to have well-balanced meals Monday through Friday, but during the weekend, some school-children coming from families struggling to make ends meet also struggle to stay full.
The Mountain Lion Backpack Program is trying to help.
"We pack two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, two drinks and two snacks," said Heather Little, one of the organization's founders. "They [the students] go home every Friday with these backpacks."
Little first noticed the problem of weekend child-hunger while visiting her daughter in Ohio and seeing a similar program.
"It really is a problem," she said. "I think you'll find every school has this need."
Currently the Mountain Lion Backpack Program works with the Altoona Area School District to provide these weekend food backpacks to Wright Elementary School. They pack approximately 230 bags each weekend.
The children in need of the weekend food backpacks are usually referred by teachers, coaches, bus drivers and cafeteria staff.
"They've all been so supportive," said Little. "The staff and teachers want it to continue."
Putting the backpacks together and organizing the food is no easy task, but volunteers from area high-schools and colleges help speed along the process.
"It's about campus, community, brotherhood and sisterhood," said Grant Caceres a volunteer student from Penn State-Altoona. "We're just trying to make a difference in the world."
The organization receives assistance and resources from the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank as well as the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation.
To learn more about the Mountain Lion Backpack Program, view its Facebook page here....