(BEDFORD) - Walmart awarded Lawrence InterFaith Endeavor a $50,000 grant to help fight childhood hunger through their Blessings in a Backpack program.
The grant will be distributed over a three-year period, $16,500 per year, and will be administered by the Hoosier Hills Food Bank in Bloomington.
Hoosier Hills agreed to be the grant administrator when LIFE learned that its budget was not large enough, under Walmart's rules for the grant, to be the recipient.
Blessings in a Backpack, provides food to children who qualify for free and reduced price lunches. Currently two schools in Mitchell and four in North Lawrence participate in Blessings. The cost is $80 per child for the school year. Backpacks are filled with food on Fridays for children to take home and eat during the weekends.
Blessings is a partnership between LIFE and schools. LIFE orders and delivers the food and can assist with volunteers and fundraising, but Hall says either the school or volunteer groups, such as a Parent-Teacher Organization, are responsible for funding the program.
Mitchell's two schools, Burris and Hatfield, are self-funded, as is Dollens Elementary in Oolitic.
According to Feeding America, the current child food insecurity rate in Lawrence County is 25.5 percent - or 2,780 children. With the $50,000 grant from Walmart, Hoosier Hills Food Bank will be able to support LIFE in providing more than 200 children in Lawrence County with more than 24,500 vital meals during the next three years.
Donnie Hall, LIFE director of community relations says the financial board will decide how to best use the grant money.
Hall says the board will decide on adding new schools, using the money to fund existing schools and also placing some money into the Blessings in a Backpack endowment at the Lawrence County Community Foundation for future support of the program.
Employees of Bedford Walmart helped their store receive the Golden Spark grant after volunteering 450 hours, many at LIFE. They also collected donations of food, money and bagged 6,000 pounds of corn for the Bryantsville Corn Project. Volunteers were competing against other stores across the country for the grant.
Hall says he cannot thank the Walmart employees enough for their tremendous help securing the grant. Walmart Manager Jennifer Stroud was confident the employees could win the grant.
The grants were awarded to several other Walmarts through the company's Fighting Hunger Together fall initiative.
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