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Volunteers supply backpacks, breakfast to kids in need

Children in need on rise in Northern Kentucky

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COVINGTON, Ky - A Northern Kentucky group wants to make sure kids head back to school with full backpacks and filled bellies when school doors swing open next week.

Northern Kentucky Harvest's 13th annual Backpacks and Breakfast school readiness event is set for Saturday, Aug. 10, beginning at 9 a.m. in Covington’s Mainstrasse Village. It will include activities for children, free school supplies and a free breakfast in an effort to get Northern Kentucky students in need school-ready.

The number of children in need far exceeds the 900 backpacks and breakfasts available, as poverty rates continue to increase throughout Northern Kentucky.

Feeding 14,557 low-income children, out of nearly 43,000 school-age children enrolled in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, is key, said the Kentucky Department of Education. 

Children who eat nutritious meals show better focus, less fatigue, and increased comprehension and memory, said Rebecca Blessing, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Department of Education.

“Poorly nourished children may be sick more often, miss more school, and fail to keep up with classmates,” said Blessing.

In Kentucky, school readiness means each child starts school ready to engage in experiences that promote success, said Amy Neal, Success By 6 Manager of Northern Kentucky.

“This includes making sure health and nutrition needs are met so that children enter school eager and excited to learn,” said Neal.

That's why it is important that families, schools and communities work together to meet the needs of children, she said.

Poverty counts have risen in all three counties in the past two years.

Consider:

  • Thirty-five percent of Boone County school-age children received free or reduced-priced school lunches in the 2012-13 school year, which was up by 4 percent in 2011-12.
  • Thirty-seven percent of Kenton County children received free or reduced lunches. That’s an increase of 6 percent the year prior.
  • Nearly half of school-age students received a free or reduced-priced school lunch last year in Campbell County, which was an increase of 2 percent.

“Good nutrition and healthy meal choices can play a big role in a child’s proper physical and intellectual development,” said Anya Weber, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

“The nourishment kids get from the right food helps fuel their study and play time. Healthy habits established in childhood can last a lifetime and help fit kids become fit adults and avoid chronic disease.”

IF YOU GO:

What: Northern Kentucky Harvest’s 13th Annual Backpacks and Breakfast, largest backpack and school supply giveaway in Northern Kentucky.

When: Saturday, Aug. 10, 2012, 9-11 a.m.

Where: Goebel Park, 5th and Philadelphia streets, Covington, Ky.

Who: Open to students from low-income families in kindergarten through 12th grade from Kenton, Campbell and Boone counties. Some 900 students will receive new, clear plastic backpacks filled with new school supplies distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Requirements: Parents should bring a photo ID for themselves, Social Security or medical cards for their children and a recent piece of mail with their name on it. Children do not have to be present in order to receive a backpack.

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