On average, the cost to run the program is $39,600 a year and the program is run for nine months out of the year while the schools are in session, Coleson said.
Due to financial restrictions, however, the Buddy Bags program does not send children home with food every weekend. The bags are distributed to the children one or two weekends out of the month, Coleson said.
With the proper funding, program organizers say they would like to expand the program into other elementary schools.
In late 2013, Community Hospital Anderson joined the church in its fight against local hunger by sponsoring the addition of another Buddy Bags distribution.
“We feel like this program falls right in line with our mission statement which reads, “Deeply committed to the communities we serve, we enhance health and well being,” said Brandy Hill, a marketing and community relations representative for the hospital. “We strive to do more than just provide health care for our patients, but to also care for the wellness of our community.
“Providing these children with a bag full of healthy, nutritious food, when they might otherwise go without, will improve the quality of life for these families.”
Hill said Community Hospital Anderson became involved with the program after its leadership team heard about it from a member of the church.
“We learned that they provided the bags one weekend per month, and determined that we could do the same,” she said.
The program also gives the employees an opportunity to get out into the community, Hill said. On the second week of each month, Hill said, Community Hospital employees pack the bags at First United Methodist, and then help to distribute the bags on a Friday at Anderson Elementary.
“It’s rewarding to us to be able to see the faces of those we are helping, and to see that we are making a difference in their lives,” she said.