Mar 26, 2014 7:07 PM by Dave Fields
Motivated to respond to the needs of hungry Louisiana school children living in poverty, Cleco donated $60,000 to support the Backpack Program, which provides elementary school children with backpacks filled with nutritious, child-friendly food during weekends and holiday breaks.
Cleco officials noted that one in three children in Louisiana lives in poverty.
The Backpack Program provides nutritious meals for children when school meals are unavailable - on weekends and extended holiday breaks. Second Harvest Food Bank is the largest anti-hunger organization in the state, serving 23 south Louisiana parishes from Lake Charles to the Mississippi border. The food bank provides food to 300 partner agencies and serves 263,000 individuals annually, including 80,000 children and 40,000 seniors.
The Cleco donation is aimed at reducing child hunger in multiple parishes, particularly in Evangeline, Calcasieu, Iberia and St. Tammany. Of the total statewide donation, $31,000 will go to south Louisiana. The program is a joint effort with Second Harvest Food Bank, Cleco and Jeanerette Elementary.
The backpacks will be distributed to children through schools like Jeanerette Elementary. Among the schools selected to benefit from this donation in the Second Harvest Food Bank service area are Oak Park Elementary (Calcasieu Parish) and Chataignier Elementary (Evangeline Parish). These areas also have high child food insecurity rates: Iberia - 20.8% (4,190 children), Calcasieu - 20.7% (10,040 children) and Evangeline - 22.5% (2,060 children). In St. Tammany Parish, Elmer E. Lyon Elementary and Glynn H. Block Elementary were chosen because of the high child food insecurity rate of 17.3%, or approximately 10,300 children in the parish.
Cleco officials also noted that "the Backpack Program would not be possible without the generous support of the community."