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The Daily Tar Heel

TABLE grows its program

TABLE, a Carrboro-based organization that serves elementary school children who are food insecure, is expanding its program to include preschool and middle school children.

“It only makes sense,” said Ashton Chatham Tippins, executive director of TABLE.

“We’ve been receiving requests from middle schoolers and preschoolers, but due to our mission statement of feeding elementary schoolers, we’ve been unable to serve them until now.”

The Weekend Meal Backpack Program provides assistance to children who might not have access to food over the weekend by distributing backpacks stuffed with food at schools on Friday afternoons.

TABLE has been operating with area elementary schools since 2008, when the organization made its first delivery to 12 children, according to a press release. TABLE currently serves 277 children through elementary schools, after-school centers and nonprofits.

Virginia Gilbert, a parent volunteer at Rashkis Elementary School, created a partner program just for Rashkis called Adopt-A-Bag.

At Rashkis Elementary, TABLE and Adopt-A-Bag were initially feeding 30 kids per weekend. Now they feed 84.

“The need has continually increased,” Tippins said.

Gilbert and Tippins said the programs provide food that is both delicious and nutritious.

“We try to make it very kid friendly,” Gilbert said. “Macaroni and cheese, anything they can prepare for themselves in a microwave.”

Each bag contains at least two fruits and two vegetables.

“TABLE has a very strong commitment to educating the kids about healthy eating choices and providing them with nutritious meals they’ll actually eat,” Tippins said.

Tippins said TABLE hopes to duplicate the success it has had with the elementary school program by applying the same system for preschoolers and middle schoolers.

Gilbert said one of the reasons TABLE and Adopt-A-Bag have been so successful is the individual attention that each student is given. Each donor family in Adopt-A-Bag buys food for the same child every weekend, so the family gets to know the child’s tastes and special dietary needs.

“Half of the bags are provided by families at Rashkis,” Gilbert said.

Tippins said she hopes extendi ng this service to preschoolers and middle schoolers will further TABLE’s stated goal of providing healthy food to hungry kids that are not able to go to the grocery store or get a job themselves.

“Any way we can reach those kids,” she said.

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