“I’m just a solution-oriented person. If there’s a problem, let’s solve it.” Simple enough, right? That’s Annessa Jones, the Guidance Counselor at Harry E. James Elementary School in Hopewell.
Annessa Jones helps children at Harry E. James Elementary School receive nutritious meals for their weekends at home.
Her job as a Guidance Counselor is to care for the well-being of the students in her school, but some situations aren’t easily solved. She mentions a few things her kids have to deal with like missing a sister who’s run away, or not seeing their mom for a week, and even having both parents in jail at the same time. Now those are tough problems. But Annessa is up to it. She’s faced challenges before – flying military helicopters over Iraq in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom was no walk in the park.
Today she’s clear on one problem she needs to address: many of her kids don’t have enough to eat on the weekends.
“We have free breakfast and lunch [at school] for all of the kids, so we have that covered. But on the weekends there’s a gap and that’s where [the backpacks] come in.” She’s referring to FeedMore’s Weekend Backpack program. FeedMore uses grant funding from John Randolph Foundation to serve Hopewell schools, including HEJ. FeedMore provides chronically hungry children with nutritious and non-perishable food for times when other food isn’t available – like weekends.
Each backpack contains six carefully chosen meals. It has to be light enough for a five-year-old to carry.
Each week, the backpacks are prepared by FeedMore then loaded and transported by volunteers to four Hopewell schools – Harry E. James Elementary distributes about 50 of them to their children in need. The kids leave school each Friday afternoon with a bag of food that is child-friendly and easy to prepare and eat.
“If [kids] are hungry, they can’t learn, and I don’t want them dwelling on food over the weekend. The backpacks [help them] think about getting their reading done. That’s what I want, not ‘where’s my next meal coming from.’”
FeedMore volunteers Susan Burton and Liz Kirkpatrick deliver backpack meals to Hopewell schools every week during the school year.
As we talk, Annessa admits she doesn’t like to be in a spotlight – she wants the spotlight on helping her kids have worry-free days at home and at school. And that’s what she tells them, “I help them understand that, at school, you can control your destiny.”
To us, that idea is a great example of what it means at John Randolph Foundation when we say, “Healthy communities – bright futures.” Proper nutrition today leads to a destiny these kids can be proud of tomorrow.Tags: Children's Programs, FeedMore, Harry E. James Elementary School, Hopewell, hunger, nutrition
This post was written by Ken Newman