January 17, 2023

McCullough Academy Students Receive Weekend Meals through National Backpack Program

(Gary, IND) – This past Friday January 13th, 100 scholars from Frankie Woods McCullough Academy went home for the weekend with a backpack filled with nutritious food, thanks to the National Backpack Program spearheaded by the Northern Indiana Chapter of The Links – Black K.A.R.E. grant. The Black K.A.R.E. (Kidney Awareness Resources and Education) program targets health tribulations in the African American community. This particular project is in it’s second year thanks to the support of organizations that align with the mission to address Chronic Kidney Disease through preventive initiatives.

“Our program teaches children the importance of good nutrition and its role of preventing chronic kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease,” said Dr. LaVada Taylor, President of the Northern Indiana Chapter of The Links. 

This year’s program at McCullough Academy was funded through Purdue Northwest who contributed $23,000. The meals are put together weekly by the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and will continue each week until the end of the school year.

“Food security remains a barrier for education in our communities,” said Dr. Kenneth Holford, Provost & Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at Purdue Northwest. “It’s a fundamental need that contributes to the success in learning.”

In conjunction with the daily food insecurities that hundreds of children experience, the program is geared towards filling the gap with healthy alternatives in hopes to prevent childhood obesity and other health issues later in life.

“Our mission at the food bank is to feed people today and end hunger tomorrow by inspiring and collaborating with our community, and this program exemplifies this,” said Victor Garcia, President/CEO of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana.

Students received their bookbags during a Friday press conference which included the aforementioned community partners.

“It’s a blessing to see the community coming out to help our kids,” said McCullough Academy Principal Sharmayne McKinley. “It has a lasting impact for our students to actually see the faces of the community members responsible for the program. We continue to welcome you and others to our school.”

Families in the Gary Community School Corporation in need are supported through many initiatives in addition to the Backpack Program. For resources and support, please contact the school F.A.C.E. Liaison at any school in the Gary Community School Corporation.

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Caption for first 2 pics – Taylor (black Jacket) from the Links helps McCullough students with their backpacks. 

Caption for final pic – Dr. Esther Goodes, Director of Elementary Education for GCSC, poses with some of the youth after receiving their backpacks.