GREEN COVE SPRINGS – No child should have to go to school hungry. A hungry child can’t focus. A hungry child has a tougher time learning. That’s where Maggie’s Meals comes by feeding 150-175 hungry children a week.
“The purpose of our program is to try to better educate the children in our area,” said Susan Mitchell, Magnolia Point Women’s Club treasurer. “Charles E. Bennett Elementary has low-income families that range from 70-90% in the school. We’re trying to break that cycle of poverty by trying to help them get a better education.”
In 2011, the MPWC realized that they had a surplus of money in their treasury. Being a charitable organization, they looked for some good way to spend it. They got in touch with the then-principal Charles E. Bennett, Evelyn Chastain, to ask what could be done for students. Chastain told them children were coming into school on Monday morning very hungry.
Members of the MPWC started researching how they could help.
They came across an news story referencing the nationwide charity called Blessings in a Backpack, which worked along the same lines of providing food to hungry children.
The group began working with Blessings in Basket. Over time, Blessings in a Basket began growing. It began to charge a percentage of the donated amount. It was at this time that the MPWC decided that they would have to find another way because they wanted every cent raised and donated to go to feeding hungry children. They began working with Walmart, but due to regular changes in in-store management, the amount and readiness of the food for the program were not standardized. Finally, it was decided that the MPWC had to run the program on its own.
“Right now, we’re spending about $117 per child, per school year,” said Belcher. “For the 2018-19 school year, we spent $18,755.”
Waste Not Want Not also donates juice to Maggie’s Meals.
So how does this organization come up with almost $19,000 annually to feed hungry children?
The MPWC receives grants from different organizations, but the largest contributor is Clay Electric.
“The Clay Electric Foundation, since we found about their grants, has been wonderful,” said Mitchell, treasurer of the MPWC. “They have funded the majority of our expenses. It’s actually their customers who are giving us the money. What they have is called operation round-up. Any of their customers can have their monthly bill rounded up to the nearest dollar, and the difference between their bill and the amount they pay goes into a foundation where Clay Electric donates it to charities in the area.”
Since Maggie’s Meals has been in effect, attendance at the school has risen, especially on Fridays which is when the food is handed out. Test scores have also increased, proving a child who isn’t focused on their hunger is more focused on learning.