Library in need of donations for new backpack ‘feeding’ program

Elisha Morrison
Staff Writer

The Saline County Library system is starting a new program during the summer to help feed children in need and is asking for the community’s help.

In conjunction with the annual summer reading program, the library plans to offer a summer feeding program for children who are at risk of food insecurity.

“We saw a need and through a few other organizations and realized they didn’t have the capacity to continue the program during the summer months,” said Kari Beesley, library marketing coordinator. “And we thought, ‘well, we are already doing summer reading, why can’t we help them do this during the summer?’”
For this first year, the library will provide for 125 children each week for eight weeks who are already enrolled in programs to provide food during the school year. Down the road, she hopes to be able to provide for any child who needs it.

The library plans to put together kits of food. Beesley wants the kits to include two breakfast items; four to five snack items with two being protein based; three to four meal items, such as canned soups or vienna sausages; and sides such as fruit cups or applesauce.

She would also like to include hygiene items, but food is her main concern.
Each child will also receive an age-appropriate book.

Beesley also needs drawstring backpacks to pack the items in. She does not care if they are plain or have a logo. Beesley simply wants something the children can pick up that is not a plastic bag.
However, Beesley does not want anything to cause the children to feel embarrassed. Working with the local organizations that feed the children during the school year, the library has derived a plan where the children will know where to pick up the bags.

She plans to collect items through March and April.
The library wants to have a competition between organizations to see which can collect the most food. Beesley said the library will provide each business or organization with a decorated collection box. The library will also pick up the boxes around the middle of May.

The top three organizations that collect the most will have their names on bricks in the library’s outdoor learning center, which Beesley expects to be constructed within a year.
She also plans to promote the organizations that participate in collecting items on social media.

Items should be nonperishable and contain no glass, no nuts and not expired.
They are looking for things children can open and prepare on their own.

If an organization wants to collect money instead of items, Beesley said they can call her in mid-May to find out what items are needed most and use the money to make a purchase.

“This is a community need and we want to help out, but we know we can only do so much. We need the community,” Beesley said.
If the library collects more food than it needs by the end of the summer that food will go to the organizations that feed the students during the year.

“Everything is going to Saline County kids,” Beesley said. “Nothing will be wasted.”
Volunteers will be needed to help sort and pack the donations. Crosspointe Church is providing space to store and sort items.
Anyone interested in volunteering to help can call the library at 501-778-4766 or email Beesley at

Items needed include:

•Ramen noodles.
•Small and microwavable soups.
•Raisins and dried fruit.
•Individual cereals.
•Fruit roll ups.
•Oatmeal bars (no nuts).
•Pop Tarts.
•Fruit snacks.
•Cheese spread and crackers.
•Fruit cups.
•Apple sauce.
•Macaroni cups.
•Instant potatoes.
•Vienna sausages.
•Bean dip.
•Instant oatmeal.
•Small cookie bags.
•Canned soups.
•Beef jerky.
•Bottled water.
•Shampoo and conditioner.
•Wet wipes.
•Hand sanitize.
•Small first aid kit.
•Toothpaste and toothbrush.
•Tampons, pads, pantiliners.