Dinner fundraiser to support backpack program


Hard to believe that in America one in six children live in hunger and more than 12 million reside in food insecure homes. Right here in Illinois, Feeding America reports 17.3 percent of children under age 18 live in homes with limited or uncertain availability to nutritious food.
Statistics like these are known all too well by three local volunteers who stepped up five years ago to keep a supplemental food program going in the local community.
Known as the Coal City Backpack Program, the group's work is to ensure students in the Unit 1 School District have access to supplemental food.
The program started out by providing bags of food once a week to students in the district's lower grades and has since expanded to twice a week during the school year to students in kindergarten to 12th grade.
At the close of the 2018-2019 school year, the Coal City Backpack Program was assisting 155 students in the district at a monthly cost of around $2,600.
The bags are filled with items like juice, crackers, fruit cups and pasta cups. The concept is to provide each of the students with a little something extra to supplement what they are seeing on the table each day.
To continue serving the students of the district, the organization is set to host a fundraiser with a goal of raising at least $10,000. The benefit dinner set for Saturday, Aug. 3 at Coal City Lions Hall.
The menu includes pulled pork and pulled chicken. The meal will include various side dishes and salads, and desserts. Assisting with the meal are BBQ & Baker, Rachetti's and Sweet Icing Cupcakes. There will be a cash bar and juice boxes for the kids.
Tickets are available through the Coal City Backpack Program Facebook event page or by calling 773-259-3403. A limited number of tickets will be available at the door.
The cost to attend is $25 per person (age 18 and up), $15 senior citizens (60-plus), $10 kids (age 6-17) and those under six years old eat for free. Those bringing the family to support the program can purchase a family package for $60 that admits a family of four for dinner and includes one complementary soda or water per person.
In addition to the dinner there will be raffle baskets and a 50/50 drawing.
The doors to the Lions Hall open at 4 p.m. with dinner service beginning at 5 p.m. The event will wrap up at 8 p.m.
The Coal City Backpack Program is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.