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Christ Community Church is partnering with Black Mountain Rotary Club to help feed school children on weekends.

For more than five years, the Black Mountain Rotary Club has been coordinating and funding local efforts toward MANNA Packs for Kids, a program by MANNA FoodBank in Asheville.

“The purpose of this project is to provide backpacks filled with food to students/families in grades K-5 in Black Mountain and Swannanoa elementary schools,” said John DeWitt, Rotary board director for community service.

The program has been coordinated by Rotarian Meredith Begley with support from Rotary volunteers and the staff at Black Mountain Savings Bank, with food pickup at MANNA by Bounty & Soul. Volunteers shop for food to supplement the items received from MANNA, help pack backpacks and deliver the bags to school counselors, who have selected the students.

Purchases by volunteers, which generally include more staples to help the children get nutritious food during weekends, include items such as cheese, rice, potatoes, cereal, soup, and canned vegetables.

Each bag hold enough food for three meals, plus snacks. Bags include individually packaged items that often include canned soup, beans and fruit, oatmeal packets, noodles, fresh produce and kid-friendly snacks.

Rotarians and volunteers separate the items for each school and then deliver the packs to counselors. The Rotary Club supports the program, which operates according to the school calendar, through a district Rotary grant which is matched by the Black Mountain Rotary Club funds. The program also receives significant grants from the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Valley Endowment Fund.

The new partnership with Christ Community Church will provide significant additional funding for four years and will provide volunteers to assist with packing and delivering the backpacks to the schools.

“We stand amazed at how God is leading us in our church’s vision,” church pastor Richard White said. “The Lord has opened an opportunity to partner with Rotary in feeding hungry kids in our valley with this backpack ministry. The gospel changes us. We are loved by Christ and are moved to serve our community with that same love. What a privilege to come alongside children and help meet this hunger need in their lives.”

The number of children and families participating in the program increases each year, DeWitt said, as counselors identify new children and families in need. The program started with about 24 children and is now serving about 100 children and their families in the Valley.

“This support from Christ Community Church will provide for the stability that the program needs and will allow us to serve more children and their families,” DeWitt said. “We are very thankful to the church and its members for their commitment and partnership in meeting this need in the Valley.”

To help with the program, contact Begley at meredith@blackmountainsavings.com or 669-7991.

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