The Cleveland Interagency Council listened attentively to the presentations of The Caring Place’s SacPac Coordinator Lee Ann Lowe and social worker Johnna Ojo at a recent meeting.
According to Lowe, the SacPac program is currently helping 459 students within the Bradley County school system.
“There is the possibility they may or may not eat over the weekend,” Lowe said. “These beautiful children, 459 of them — I always keep that number near and dear to my heart, because each one of these bags represents one of these beautiful children.”
Bags are currently dropped off at nine elementary schools: Waterville, 111 bags; Black Fox, 106 bags; Park View, 75 bags; Valley View, 39 bags; Charleston, 39 bags; Taylor, 39 bags; Oak Grove, 37 bags; Michigan Avenue, seven bags; and North Lee, six bags.
Fifth-grade students often ask if they will be able to receive the bags of food when they transition to the next level. Lowe said the hope is to reach the point where the sixth-graders at Lake Forest and Ocoee middle schools are included.
The program is currently working on sustainability. A five-year descending grant offered through the United Way of Bradley County launched the feeding program. Initially 200 bags were delivered each week. The amount has since grown by 259 thanks to individual and corporate donations.
“It is a very needed, very appreciated program,” Lowe said. “We interviewed some of the children at the end of the year, and I did not realize until I saw their faces the impact the food has had.”
Each bag weighs 4-5 pounds. A week’s worth of bags is approximately 2,000 pounds. Each bag contains: two shelf stable milks; two cereals; two juice boxes; two proteins (like chilli); a mac and cheese packet; two granola bars; a fruit cup; and two fruit snacks. The cost of each bag is about $5. Sponsorships are available on a monthly basis for $20.
TCP Director Reba Terry said the program was only possible through the generosity of the community.
Ojo followed Lowe’s presentation with a quick word on the Karis Dental Clinic.
“It is a monthly clinic. Normally we see about six patients on average,” Ojo said. “So definitely not enough to meet the need, but it is better than what we had before.”
The clinic deals exclusively with extractions and is only available for Bradley County residents. All patients must be 18 years or older. Ojo said there have been an influx of calls from individuals who do not qualify for the program. She explained fielding the calls takes away from time she can focus on those who are eligible for the services.
Potential patients do not have to meet the federal poverty guideline. However, they do need to have a pressing financial issue that would make it difficult for them to cover the costs of a dental appointment. The cost of a Karis appointment and procedure is $15.
If a patient qualifies for the services, then they fill out a series of forms and are referred to the Bradley County Health Department for medical and dental screenings. Those who follow through with the extraction will be contacted a week after for a follow-up survey. Patients must wait six months before another appointment can be scheduled.
More information on both programs can be found at www.thecaringplaceonline.org.