A simple meal of macaroni and cheese and sandwiches served at North Congregational Church in Farmington Hills Oct. 24 will help raise awareness and funds for a program that keeps Farmington Public Schools students from going hungry over the weekend.
The first "Backpack Dinner" is being organized by the Farmington-Farmington Hills Foundation for Youth and Families. Board member David Pniewski said the program provides a weekend backpack filled with food to elementary students whose families meet income guidelines for the program. And the need is growing, he added.
"We're getting a lot of calls from middle and high schools," he said, noting that poverty is affecting more families than ever. "We have to try to do what we can as good neighbors to assist."
One good neighbor, Picasso Cafe on Grand River in Novi, has donated all of the food and preparation for the event.
"There's no cost, everything's going directly to this program," Pniewski said.
Those who attend will also get a look at how the program runs. Students from Visions Unlimited, a post-secondary special education program for young adults ages 18-26 with developmental and physical disabilities, will demonstrate how they pack the backpacks every other week.
The students also gather foods, which the Foundation purchases in partnership with Busch's Fresh Food Market, and track inventory as part of their classes. Pniewski said the Foundation hopes to add more fruits and vegetables to the backpacks, which currently cost about $250 per child for the school year.
The food really supports the whole family, not just the child, he added. But a key concern is ensuring children have the nutrition they need to be good students.
"A young mind that isn't fed well doesn't think well," Pniewski said. "We think (the backpack program) will contribute to the overall success of the schools."
Tickets for the 6 p.m. dinner, which are $20 for adults, $10 for children under 12, can be purchased online at ffhfoundation.org or at Pniewski Agency - Farmers Insurance in downtown Farmington.
Donors can also sponsor a child for a year or sponsor the dinner. For information, call the Foundation, 248-345-9090.
Correction: David Pniewski's name was incorrectly reported in the original version of this article.