Organization Brings Hope to NEK

LYNDONVILLE- It’s no secret that the Northeast Kingdom continuously struggles with hunger and homelessness, but one organization is continuously there for the people in the surrounding community. 

 

H.O.P.E. in Lyndonville is more than just a thrift store and there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that people in the community might not be fully aware of. One of those in particular, is the backpack program. The backpack program provides needy children in local schools food and essentials that they may not have access to. This program has been going on for years, and H.O.P.E. General Manager, Dan Haycook says that the program continues to grow each year. 

 

“Each year we have teachers, counselors, and nurses come to us with an identified need in their school for students who need it and food insecurity among children is becoming an increasing issue in the community.” 

Food insecurity is when you have limited or no access to food and according to Haycook, primarily access to healthy food, which the organization focuses on providing.

The backpack program has been going on for many years and because the program relies heavily on donations from various local businesses and the general surrounding community, as the demand increases, the need for donations increases. 

Because of this, the organization has had to reach out to the community to help with more donations. Haycook blames this hike in need mostly on the economy; as prices on commodities rise, the amount that low income families can afford becomes increasingly scarce.

Last year, the program provided about 1300 backpacks. According to H.O.P.E. Board of Directors Member, Bob McCabe, the organization provides 70-75 backpacks per week and “60 is the average continuous group that receive backpacks each week”. 

The program primarily lasts throughout the school year because the organization doesn’t have a direct connection to the school to find out what needs to be met. However, during the summer months while school is out of session, there is an emergency food pantry that is available yearlong that isn’t in direct connection to the schools.

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