MASSENA — Every Friday during the school year, some Massena students have found healthy weekend snacks in their backpacks, courtesy of Back the Pack.
But, with schools closed for an undetermined time frame, Back the Pack officials haven’t been able to make their weekly distribution. As a result, they’ve donated all of their food on hand to the Massena Central School District to use during its weekly breakfast and lunch distribution to children 18 and under in the community.
“We did get a donation from Back the Pack. As you know, since 2011 they have provided an essential service for our students, providing after-school snacks. They had a significant inventory that because of the coronavirus they could not get out. So they have donated the snacks they could not get out to our food service. It was two trucks full, about $11,000,” Superintendent Patrick Brady told board of education members this week.
He said Back the Pack may be done for the school year, but will be back again.
“We’ve always appreciated Back the Pack and what they’ve done. They haven’t given up. They’re not going away,” he said.
Mr. Brady said Back the Pack plans to continue its fundraisers, such as a spaghetti dinner held at the Italian-American Club in Massena, to replenish its funds and food.
“But right now they just want to get that food out to us,” he said, noting the district was “in a position to distribute it.”
The district’s meals are distributed from 11 a.m. to noon Mondays in the Massena High School parking lot, Massena Community Center, Jefferson Elementary School, Ray Hurlbut Louisville Community Center and Norfolk Fire Station parking lot on state Highway 420/Furnace Drive. Families receive a five-day meal pack to last for the week.
In a letter to Mr. Brady, which he posted in his superintendents update, Back the Pack Chair Julianne C. Paquin said the meals families receive starting Monday will contain items such as a pound of sliced meat, cheese, loaves of bread, milk, cereal, muffins and fruits.
“Our donations will fit in nicely with this delivery each week,” she said.
Mrs. Paquin said they had more than 550 bags that were packed and needed to be delivered. Also, Renzi delivered more than $9,000 in food that needed packing but couldn’t be done in order to adhere to the state mandates.
“Our program is meant for the Massena Central School students. This will all go for that purpose. While this is not what we wanted, it is the best solution,” she said.