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Goshen, N.Y. – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus packed backpacks with food on Thursday at the Deacon Jack Seymour Food Pantry for students in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District as part of the County’s Orange Cares program.
Neuhaus was joined at the event by Paul Stermer, Director of the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, Newburgh Enlarged City School District BackPack Coordinator Mona Sodano, Bill Morgan, the district’s Homeless Liaison, and Arlene Putterman and Ruth Maloney of the Stop & Shop Family Foundation.
The group packed a variety of food, including , pasta, juice, canned food, a gift card redeemable for a gallon of milk, cereal and bread into approximately 550 backpacks.
“It was gratifying to come together with some of the County’s partners to pack backpacks at Deacon Jack Seymour,” Neuhaus said. “The County has received wonderful feedback about this program and we will continue to help address hunger issues that are impacting some of the most vulnerable in our communities. We are proud of the success of the program and that it has helped thousands of students and their families.”
Orange Cares has helped the Newburgh school district’s BackPack program grow significantly. The program had only 30 backpacks when it began and now serves 550 students. Two-hundred and fifty-five of these students are sponsored by Orange Cares, while 295 are sponsored by the Stop & Shop Family Foundation. Many of the participating students have been designated as homeless by the school district. The students are identified by Morgan, teachers, social workers and nurses.
Volunteers from Deacon Jack Seymour Food Pantry, many of whom are retired teachers, deliver the backpacks to each school. The Orange Cares program has now been implemented in four school districts in Orange County: Port Jervis, Highland Falls, Middletown and Newburgh, serving approximately 530 students each month.
Approximately 12,685 backpacks were distributed to Orange Cares schools during the 2016-17school year, containing the equivalent of 76,110 meals.
Neuhaus and Orange County Commissioner of Social Services Darcie Miller announced a partnership in September of 2016 with Food Bank of the Hudson Valley to assist children in Orange County who are considered food insecure through the Orange Cares initiative. Orange County invested $375,000 into Orange Cares to jumpstart this important program. Childhood food insecurity refers to the percentage of children under 18 living in households that experience limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods at some point during the year. Approximately 10.2 percent of Orange County’s population (38,230 residents) is classified as food insecure.
“This is a wonderful example of how a public-private partnership can serve a community’s most urgent needs,” said Stermer. “On behalf of each of these children and their families, we are truly grateful for the support of both County Executive Neuhaus and the Stop & Shop Family Foundation.”
If your school is interested in implementing the Orange Cares program, please contact the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley at (845) 534-5344 or firstname.lastname@example.org.