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Credit Union Donation Fills Hungry Kids' Backpacks With Food

Tom Flanigan

Hundreds of school kids in six North Florida counties will be carrying something a bit tastier than homework in their backpacks every weekend this fall. They’ll be bringing home much needed food thanks to a big donation from a Tallahassee credit union.

Darryl Worrell, president and CEO of Envision Credit Union, said this is the third year for the “Swipe for Schools” contribution.

“This is a program where we encourage all of our membership to simply use their debit and credit card and with each swipe, 5 cents is donated to the backpack program of Second Harvest of the Big Bend,” Worrell said during a Tuesday (8/2) media event at Second Harvest’s Tallahassee headquarters. “This is the second year that we’ve reached the maximum donation level of $10,000.”

Jim Croteau has been around during each of those “Swipe for Schools” donations in the double role of Second Harvest interim director and as board chair of Envision Credit Union.

“This program supporting the school backpacks really makes a difference every day in the lives of those kids who take the food home on the weekend and the reports that we get from the teachers and the family members is that it makes a significant difference in their behavior and a significant difference in their academic success,” Croteau acknowledged.

Envision’s donation is enough to stock backpacks for a total of 800 students in 11 schools in 6 counties. One of those counties is Leon and School Superintendent Jackie Pons said the need far exceeds the capability of even this effort.

“I don’t think the community realizes that we have almost 700 homeless students,” Pons explained. “If you have 700 homeless students, how many students do you think we have that live in our community that sometimes during the day are hungry?”

And Rick Minor, who just took over as the permanent director of Second Harvest of the Big Bend, added the regional outlook is truly daunting when it comes to the total number of food-deprived kids.

“Thirty-three percent of those in this community that are hungry are children; that’s one in four. That’s nearly 30,000 children in the Big Bend area who aren’t sure where they’re going to get their next healthy meal.”

But, thanks to the latest donation from Envision Credit Union, 800 of those Big Bend kids will find their weekend meals in their backpacks during the upcoming school year.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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