By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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“We are all pulling together to address the needs of children and nutrition in order to make a large-scale change,” said Jefferson County YMCA Executive Director Erica Delma, one of the organizers of the inaugural Share the Bounty program.
“If children don't have the proper nutrition, it affects their cognitive ability to learn and affects long-term development.”
Money raised will support supplemental summer meals as well as the preparation of backpacks filled with food that youngsters can take home when supplemental school meals are not available.
Peace Lutheran Church in Port Ludlow initially developed the backpacks-for-children program three years ago, according to a video on the group's Facebook page viewable at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-bounty.
Church members recruited the YMCA, local food banks, school districts and charitable foundations to help spread the word, Delma said.
About 70 Chimacum schoolchildren are receiving backpacks now, along with 25 in Port Townsend and 12 in Quilcene. United Good Neighbors supports programs in all three public school districts.
“We prepare the backpacks so they have something to eat over the weekend,” Delma said.
“For a lot of kids, the free meals they get at school provide most of their nutrition,” she said.
“In the summer, we need to make up for this.”
Share the Bounty week begins with a concert by Mark Pearson of The Brothers Four at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Chimacum High School auditorium, 91 West Valley Road.
The suggested admission donation is $15.
Proceeds will be distributed among the Weekend Nutrition School Backpack Programs in Chimacum, Quilcene and Port Townsend; the Y Summer Feeding Program; and Jefferson County food banks.
The first Share the Bounty community forum will be from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday at the Beach Club, 121 Marina View Drive in Port Ludlow.
On the panel will be Chimacum Schools Superintendent Rich Stewart, Tri-Area Food Bank Director Coni Johnson, Karen Jensen of the YMCA backpack program and Barbara Adams with the summer lunch program.
Author Richard LeMieux, who wrote Breakfast at Sally's, a story of being homeless in Bremerton, will be a special guest.
A second forum is planned from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Port Townsend Community Center, 620 Tyler St.
The panel will include Port Townsend Schools Superintendent David Engle, Jensen and Delma.
Additionally, sponsors are encouraging people to view the documentary film about hunger, “A Place at the Table,” which is downloadable from Netflix and other movie sites.
Those who do not have online access and wish to see the film can contact volunteer Barbara Berthiaume for a copy at 360-437-0423 or email@example.com.
Direct donations also can be made with a check made out to the PLF Backpack Fund, P.O. Box 65295, Port Ludlow, WA 98365.
A donation of $6.50 will feed a child for a day, while $25 covers a month and $225 a year, Berthiaume said.
Volunteers also are needed for the summer program.
“We want to raise funds, but it is almost more important to raise awareness,” Berthiaume said.
For more information or to volunteer, phone Berthiaume or the YMCA, 360-385-5811.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.