MEDINA — Fewer area children and senior citizens may have to go hungry next year because of Feeding Medina County’s plans to expand programming.
Beginning Feb. 8, about 75 students at the new Cloverleaf Elementary School who qualify to receive free lunch also will receive free food for the weekend under FMC’s Weekender program.
About 50 students at Claggett and A.I. Root middle schools in Medina are in the program, which started last year and is being served by Cornerstone Wellness, FMC director Sandy Calvert said.
“So many of our students are on free lunches, and it creates great difficulty for them knowing they’re going into a weekend where they’re not going to have food,” Calvert said.
The number of people in the county who use food stamps more than doubled — from 5,000 to 11,500 — in the past three years, Medina County Job and Family Services director Mead Wilkins said.
“The deeper we got into the recession, the more people relied and qualified on our assistance,” Wilkins said. “It makes all the difference in the world for a lot of families.”
Students who participate in the program will go home with items like canned fruits and vegetables, macaroni and cheese, canned spaghetti, juice and peanut butter, Calvert said.
Food for the program is funded through a $5,800 grant Cornerstone received from the Medina County Community Fund, Calvert said.
When the grant expires in June, the organization will be able to fund the program with two grants totaling $8,500 from the 100 Plus Women Who Care organization and the Walmart Hunger Relief Program, she said. Feeding Medina also expects to get $5,000 to $7,000 from fundraising efforts by the Medina County Women’s Club, she added.
In addition to Cloverleaf Elementary, the organization eventually would like to extend the program to more schools in the county, Calvert said.
Feeding Medina also has its sights set on feeding older adults, and will expand its Staples for Seniors program in January.
Of the more than 11,000 county residents who use food stamps, one-third of them are senior citizens, Wilkins said.
Staples for Seniors provides shelf-stable food at the end of each month to low-income seniors in the county who live in subsidized housing or have chronic disabilities, Calvert said.
The program serves seniors living in Wadsworth Towers in Wadsworth and Northview Manor in Medina, but it will expand next month to United Labor Towers in Brunswick and Menwa Apartments in Wadsworth.
“I knew of the need to help the older adults,” Calvert said. “Some of those adults are living on $600-a-month Social Security checks.”
The 8- to 12-pound bags of food seniors receive come from the organization’s pantry. When that food is gone, it will buy food from the Akron-Canton Regional Food Bank, Calvert said.
“We certainly have a very economic-driven need here in the county,” County Commissioner Pat Geissman said. “So we welcome all the food drives and funds and donations that have been given to us. We will put them to good use and everything will be used.”
Contact Michelle Sprehe at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.