Food warehouse fills bags to keep Mercer Co. kids active this summer

SHARON, Pa. (WYTV) – The Backpack Program at the Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County aims to make sure kids stay active this summer.

The Centers for Disease Control said only 27 percent of children get enough exercise each week.

On Tuesday, volunteers packed 850 bags of healthy activities for the summer.

The Community Food Warehouse not only provides food for children who need it on the weekends but it will also send kids home with outdoor activities for the break.

Frisbees, jump ropes, sidewalk chalk, and personal hygiene items will be given to students in eight Mercer County school districts before class lets out for the summer. Kids will take it all home, along with backpacks filled with food.

“There is a great need in every one of our local municipalities. If they didn’t have that, some of the kids would have no food,” said Bernie Harry, with the food warehouse.

Spokeswoman Mimi Prada said children who live in food deserts are often obese because when they are given a meal, it’s not always the best choice.

“A lot of folks end up buying food at a convenience store — which isn’t the healthiest food — and so you have children not eating really nutritious food.”

Some Hermitage Walmart employees volunteered their time to fill the bags on Tuesday.

“We come down here as a group, have a little bit of fun, and get the bags set up so they can get them on to the kids,” manager Mark Falesnick said.

Last summer, Walmart provided an $88,000 grant for the Backpack Program.

The warehouse set aside $9,000 to send the kids home with a fitness bag as well.

Right now, the Backpack Program does not continue providing food during the summer but will start up again next school year. Prada said one day, they hope to provide food over the summer break, too.

“That’s a need also. We’re trying to conquer the school year right now and hopefully, in the future, find some ways to do some feeding in the summer.”

If you are interested in volunteering to pack the bags, or if you or your organization would like to sponsor children for the Backpack Program, contact Program and Volunteer Coordinator Lauren Beran at 724-981-0353.