LIVINGSTON PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Leaders with Livingston Parish Public Schools are partnering with the Livingston Parish Library System and Mighty Moms, a volunteer organization, to support an after school food program, called Feeding Young Minds.
The program was originally spearheaded by Mighty Moms over the summer to provide students with a free snack and drink, as well as a safe place to do homework or participate in educational programs.
"Our district is actively seeking ways to reach outside our schools, beyond our campus boundaries and into our communities to positively impact our students. Our goal is to ensure all our students have an opportunity to learn and develop in a safe environment. The Feeding Young Minds program allows us to utilize existing resources to do just that," said Sommer Purvis, assistant director of child nutrition for the school system.
The program expanded in February to include all five parish libraries and is expected to feed as many as 100 kids every week. The expansion was made possible largely due to funding through the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), which is managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"When we first looked into the USDA program, our biggest concern was whether we could staff the food distribution and did we have access to venues that would allow us to effectively reach students after school hours. Those questions were answered when we saw a Facebook post by Mighty Moms this past summer," said Purvis.
Purvis connected with the founder of Mighty Moms, Dawn Birdsong, after she announced her organization would be handing out bags of food at the Denham Springs-Walker library last summer.
"This collaboration is allowing us to bridge a real gap that exists for many," said Justin Wax, assistant principal at Juban Parc Junior High. Wax also serves as a volunteer board member for Mighty Moms. "Those who are economically disadvantaged can tie their condition to educational deficits. This program motivates these disadvantaged kids and parents to spend more time in the library and gain more exposure to knowledge and learning, which hopefully, will go a long way in helping them break the cycle of poverty."
Wax says he's working with other school leaders across the parish to help staff the Feeding Young Minds program. "It's an opportunity to socialize with students and their parents and connect with them in a meaningful way. We are already starting to see better established relationships between students and volunteer educators. They come in to get their snacks and they chat with the school counselor or assistant principal who is there," said Wax.
The Feeding Young Minds schedule is as follows:
- Main Branch - 20390 Iowa St., Livingston: Wednesdays, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
- Denham Springs-Walker Branch - 8101 Hwy. 190, Denham Springs: Thursdays, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
- Watson Branch - 36581 Outback Rd., Watson: First and third Tuesdays, 4 to 5 p.m.
- Albany-Springfield Branch - 26941 Hwy. 43, Albany: First and third Wednesdays, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
South Branch -- 23477 La. Hwy. 444, French Settlement; in conjunction with other scheduled activities at the library. (Volunteers for Mighty Moms are hoping to create a mobile unit to delivery snacks and educational materials to homes in the area because of the sprawling, rural nature of the area.)
Mighty Moms is always looking for more volunteers for the Feeding Young Minds program. They are currently specifically looking for mechanics who can restore a bus to be used to deliver food to homes in the southern part of the parish. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Mighty Moms at 225-435-9195 or email email@example.com. More information can be found here.