General Motors Defiance Castings employees Sonia and Karen with donations for Backpack Buddy.
Did you know 35% of Defiance County households are at Poverty level (12%) or ALICE (23%) Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, earning less than the cost of living? 35% of our neighbors don't have enough money to live and often have to make the choice to put gas in their car to get to work or an appointment, or put food on the table.
In the 2018 Defiance County Health Needs Assessment, 10% of youth reported they went to bed hungry because there was not enough food in their home in the past month.
To fight hunger in Defiance County, we have worked with Defiance College, St. John UCC and the local schools to provide the Backpack Buddy program since the 2009-2010 academic year. Thousands of children have benefitted from over 100,000 bags stuffed with supplemental food for the weekends. When our children have full stomachs, they can focus better in school and have the best chance of a successful life.
Johns Manville packed the last bags for the Backpack Buddy program for the 2017-2018 school year. Groups of volunteers pack 600+ bags per week at St. John UCC.
In 2016, we learned from local guidance counselers that as the children get older, their issues with food insecurity was not going away. Additionally, our youth were presenting a need for personal care items beyond what our local schools could support. We partnered with Women's Giving Circle and Zonta Club of Defiance to start the program, Feeding Success, which provides food and personal care item pantries in every middle and high school in Defiance County.
Additonally, every May we partner with our local Letter Carriers to organize volunteers and fundraise for the Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. In 2018, we helped collect over 20,000 pounds of food that went to our Defiance County food pantries. We also partner with the local Neighbor's in Need program and stay connected to our local pantries.
Lastly, our Community Investment team awarded grants to our community partner, Northwestern Community Action Commission's Summer Food and Fun Program which served 4,235 lunches to 630 children this past summer. Another community partner is the PATH Center, where we fund transportation to and from their community meals.