Local youth Kennedy Cassidy has taken on the ambitious task of supplying meals on the weekends to fellow students and low-income families in an effort to curb enthusiasm and wellness within the community.
For the last two weekends, Kennedy has handed out a variety of healthy choices for those struggling to feed their families, and will continue her endeavor throughout the remaining school year, she said.
Kennedy, whose mother Alysonn Cassidy works for the school district as the After School Program Director, relayed a story that her mother passed on to her a year and a-half-ago.
“[My mother] said a first-grade boy told her he hated Fridays,” Kennedy recounted. “When my mother asked why, the boy said it was a long time until breakfast Monday morning.”
The message rang in Kennedy’s ears. From that moment forth, Kennedy knew she had to act and rectify the situation in any way she could.
After she shared a cry with her mother, they began to devise a plan.
Working on the project for the last year and a-half, Kennedy, along with her mother, have been accumulating donations of food and money to buy groceries to pass out to children who take part in the free lunch program within PJUSD.
Although the program provides meals for children during school hours, many are forced to be turned away from a nutritious meal the rest of the weekend.
With Kennedy’s help, the school is grateful that they are able to bridge the gap between the weekend and Monday morning.
The program has also been recommended by teachers, who have seen the ravages of weekend hunger first hand.
PHS instructor and workforce coordinator James Toste said the Logistics center at PHS is currently lending a hand to store the food for Kennedy at their small warehouse on the Ninth Street side of the high school’s campus.
“It’s a great program,” said Toste, Tuesday, April 1. “We are happy to help however we can.”
Currently, Kennedy’s program is helping more than 10 families a week, and word is spreading fast, she said.
Every Friday after school, Kennedy sets up shop out of the back of her mother’s minivan and passes out food to those that have signed up for the program.
“The idea is to create a sustainable plan,” Alysonn noted, saying that the program could lend itself to other PREP projects as it grows. She said she may even have a teacher who is considering continuing the program when Kennedy graduates this spring.
So far donations have been pouring in from businesses and non-profits around the area. The Patterson Lions Club has pledged money and may pledge more depending on the success of the project. So has the Patterson Education Foundation, Soroptimists, Tri-Counties Bank, Sacred Heart Church and School, Claudia Smith (who runs the Jesus Cuisine program in North Park), the Modesto Love Mission and other various individuals in the community.
The very popular new Togo’s restaurant has been donating food along with Wal-Mart and the West Side Food Pantry. Savemart has also joined the fray by donating paper bags for all of the groceries.
“It took a while,” Kennedy said. “But the bins are always full now and all the donations are amazing.”
Anyone wishing to offer assistance may contact Kennedy Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
n Nick Rappley can be reached at email@example.com or 209-568-9975.