The City of Rochester is the corporate sponsor for ‘End 68 Hours of Hunger’ for the month of February. In doing so, the city will be collecting food donations for the entire month of January and February.
End 68 Hours of Hunger is a non-profit effort to confront the approximately 68 hours of hunger that some school children experience between the free lunch they receive in school Friday and the free breakfast they receive in school Monday.
“This invaluable program has helped feed many Rochester School District students on the weekends when they don’t have access to school meals,” said Jacky LeHoullier, founder of End 68 Hours of Hunger.
The program puts nourishing food in the hands of school children to carry them through the weekend. Each bag of food costs about $10 each week and provides two breakfasts, two lunches, and three dinners for a child, with some leftover.
“We’re currently feeding 120 kids per week here in Rochester,” said Lisa Stanley, Program Coordinator. “The families who receive the food are completely anonymous to us. School personnel and volunteers pick up the bags on Thursdays and they are sent home with the kids for the weekend.”
“During remote learning, we’re distributing the food in 2-bags on a bi-weekly basis so parents and kids only have to pick up every other week,” Stanley added.
The End 68 Hours chapter in Rochester recently became a member agency of the NH Food Bank, giving them access to many food items used to create weekend bags. However, the partnership only covers a portion of the essential items needed for students.
The organization is still in need of a variety of items, including individual plastic containers of Jelly, single-serve containers of cereal, bagged or packaged Ramen Noodles (not cups), Hormel Compleats, Chunky or Progresso Hearty Soup (with meat), Spaghetti Sauce, Pop-Tarts (6 per box), and various snacks (Fruit Rolls, Crackers & Cheese, Rice Krispie Treats, etc).
Organizers stress that they are in need of small individually wrapped items. No family or super sizes. Volunteers need to be able to pack the bags easily without dividing and repackaging food items. According to coordinators, “Nothing goes to waste. Whenever we get items that we can’t utilize, we pass them on to Gerry’s Food Pantry or Abi’s Place.”
“Families have shared with us that they are thankful for the food and it helps cover the gap they may have at the end of the month,” said Amy Weeks-Coffield, School Social Worker. “We are so grateful to the Rochester Rotary Club, community sponsors and donors, and all the volunteers that make this happen every year.”
Food Donations can be dropped off at Wit-Way Supply (54 Allen Street, Rochester, NH) during regular business hours. Rochester City Hall is also accepting food donations every week from the start of January through the end of February. There is a dropbox in the lobby of City Hall, near the Community News bulletin board.
The City of Rochester has also created an Amazon Wishlist for items to be ordered online and shipped directly to End 68 Hours. Visit www.bit.ly/2JUcj1T to make purchases online according to the list of most needed items. Members of the public are encouraged to contribute if they can.