Weekend BackPack Program Expands to Gordon Creek Thanks to Elks Lodge

Weekend BackPack Program Expands to Gordon Creek Thanks to Elks Lodge

BALLSTON SPA – Gordon Creek Elementary School will begin offering the BackPack Program for 17 students this week thanks to a $3,000 donation from Ballston Spa Elks Lodge 2619 presented during Wednesday’s Ballston Spa Central School District Board of Education meeting.

The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York offers the BackPack Program so participating schools can provide selected students with a backpack full of nutritious, easy to prepare non-perishable food every Friday to be eaten over the weekend. The backpack is returned on Monday, so that it can be refilled for the student to take home again on Friday.

The program is designed to meet the needs of hungry students on the weekend who rely on free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs during the school day. Each backpack contains the equivalent of six meals.

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Milton Terrace Elementary School became the first school in the district to offer the BackPack Program last spring and expanded the program to include 40 students this fall.

Gordon Creek Elementary School Principal Celeste Keane said that the program came together at her school thanks to the efforts of teacher Kim Turney.

“Really the credit goes to Kim Turney. When she found out that our Building Leadership Team was interested in partnering with our friends over at Milton Terrace and maybe having a similar program at Gordon Creek she jumped right in. She went to the Elks, she wrote a grant, she secured the funds and here we are,” Keane said.

The Ballston Spa Elks Lodge provided a donation of $3,000 to the district, presented by members Kim and her mother Carol Turney, to support the cost of participating in the program.

“It’s a pleasure for Ballston Spa Lodge 2619 to help get Gordon Creek’s BackPack Program off the ground. We currently support the two food pantries in Ballston Spa and the summer lunch program. Because of the hard work of the Elks, we’re able to get the funding through the Elks National Foundation,” Carol Turney said.

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The backpacks for the 17 students selected to receive the donated food each week will be packed by volunteers from the Gordon Creek staff and members of the Elks Lodge.

Keane shared that Carol Turney and her husband had delivered the first shipment of food and backpacks from the food bank earlier Wednesday and would continue to do so throughout the school year.

According to Keane offering the BackPack Program became a priority for Gordon Creek to support students in need at the school after seeing the success of the program at Milton Terrace.

“Just like our sister school at Milton Terrace we notice that we have many children, more every day, that are hungry. More families that are struggling with just meeting the basic needs. Our kids mean everything to us and anything that will help them be safer, have a full stomach which they deserve, is just our way of giving back what they give to us,” Keane said.

Additional information on the BackPack Program is available on the Regional Food Bank’s website at https://regionalfoodbank.net/backpack-program/.

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Reporter Ashley Onyon is a graduate of the journalism program at SUNY Albany. She wrote for the Mohawk Valley Compass for two years covering the GASD Board of Education. She has contributed articles to The Mohawk Valley Independent and the annual journal Upstream.

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