Greenpatch Backyard Bible Club and Troup County School System partner for summer feeding program

Published 9:00 pm Monday, July 2, 2018

A few years ago, Hogansville Elementary School counselor Melanie Baswell went on a mission trip to Jamaica. Before returning home, she knew her mission needed to start right in the community she loved and adored — Hogansville.

She brought the idea of The Greenpatch Backyard Bible Club (BBC) to her church home. The outreach ministry hosts a summer program for families in the Hogansville area.

This year, when Baswell heard about the summer feeding program offered by the Troup County School System (TCSS) nutrition department, she decided to ask for their services to help feed the 50 to 60 children attending the BBC program each day.

“When I was in Jamaica, the families would come to one spot, traveling together by bike or walking. It made me think of home and how we have this tight-knit community right here. It’s important to get the community involved so the children can see the people who support them,” Baswell said.

In addition to the Backyard Bible Club basketball court location, the TCSS summer feeding program is serving breakfast and lunch at multiple locations throughout the county all summer, including ten TCSS schools and several community-driven locations.

Diane Pain, director of school nutrition for TCSS, said they have seen numbers double since the first meal was served last summer.

“Last year we served 300 breakfast and 400 lunch meals a day,” Pain said. “This year, we have seen our daily numbers drastically increase. We currently serve 800 breakfast and 1,100 lunch meals per day.”

Pain said without the partnership between TCSS and community programs that offer educational, enrichment or athletic activities, they would not be able to reach as many youths.

“We know there is a need for some families to receive assistance during the summer months to feed their children,” Pain said. “Our hope for the program is to provide children with healthy meals while they are not in school. One way we do this is to partner with organizations like the Backyard Bible Club.”

As the volunteers and TCSS nutrition employees began setting up tables for nachos, apples, broccoli, juice, and milk, cars began pulling up and children started forming a line to make their lunch choices.

“It is good to see these kids enjoy their summer while learning and playing,” said Maralyn Hazelgrove, a volunteer for the summer program and a mentor at HES. “They know me from volunteering at the school so when I am here, they come up and give me hugs while telling me about their day. It is such a great connection, and I am glad I can be here to help.”

Jaylin Gates, an upcoming sixth grader at Callaway Middle School said he looks forward to playing with his friends on the basketball and volleyball court.

“I like to come out here every day and learn something new. After we finish, then we get a good lunch. My friends and I go to the library in the afternoon because it’s too hot to be outside. We read and play on the computer,” Gates said. “When I get older, I don’t want to be in prison or go to jail. Coming here helps me to do the right thing and stay out of trouble.”

Both Pain and Baswell said the program is for any child 18 years or younger.

“The kids and parents are appreciative of this effort,” Baswell said. “Many of the parents work and it has meant a lot to them to know their children will be taken care of and provided a good lunch. The kids can just walk here or ride their bike because it is within walking distance. It also helps families with their summer grocery bill.”

As for the youth, like Jaylin, that play basketball at the corner lot in Hogansville, Baswell said she hopes they see they are here for them.

“I hope they see they have an entire community supporting them and holding them accountable,” Baswell said. “It is about building relationships and spending time because it takes an army. It takes all of us to make an impact.”

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