Buddy Pack program keeps feeding the hungry

Theo Tate

Members of the Wellsville-Middletown FFA program were packing food in the Buddy Packs for the school district. SUBMITTED PHOTO

While working as a kindergarten teacher at the Wellsville-Middletown R-1 School District eight years ago, Clinetta Weinrich came up with an idea of having a program that will provide non-perishable food items for children in the Wellsville area.

So she started the Buddy Pack program.

“Another teacher had heard about it,” said Weinrich, who is now a member of the W-M School Board. “She lived in another town and they were doing it. That’s how it kind of grew. I told some teachers about it. They made the first donations. From there, we went on to the community and I wrote grants.”

Every week, buddy packs are filled by local volunteers and placed in the child’s backpack on Friday. 

“It’s doing well,” said Julie Day, a W-M elementary counselor who helps with the Buddy Pack program. “We serve about 65 students, kindergarten through 12th grade. We have different organizations that help pack. We pack them once a month. They’re delivered here to school and I put them in the kids’ cubbies or lockers.”

Every year, the Buddy Pack program does a fundraising event, such as a bingo night at the end of January. 

“It is huge,” Weinrich said. “Over 200 people come and it’s a family event. But we can’t do it this year with the COVID-19. The students and our children are the most important to us. We’re just going to send out letters to people and ask for donations. That will be our fundraiser this year. I know the community will support us. They always support our buddy pack program.”

Weinrich said the program’s main focus is to provide what children need to stay in school and get an education.

“If you say you need food, we’ll give you food,” Weinrich said. “If you tell that child needs a pair of shoes, we’ll give that child a pair of shoes. We have a lot of resources in Montgomery County. But some of the people don’t know about them. What I kind of do is I kind of know people. If I have a need, I just come up and ask. Rarely does somebody tell me no.”

The program is connected with a St. Louis food pantry called Operation Food Search, which helps give milk and cereal. Also, W-M High School does a food drive with the program during Thanksgiving time.

“We always do well,” Weinrich said. “The community is extremely supportive. We had an extra month last year. Because of COVID, the school provided food for the month of June for the students. We went ahead and passed out buddy packs for that month. We got a donation from Shelter Insurance.”

This year, the Buddy Pack program got help from the Montgomery County High School cheerleading team and the Wellsville-Middletown Future Farmers of America group putting food into the buddy packs.

“It’s quite labor intensive to haul the food in,” Weinrich said. “You have to pack it out, then you have to haul the food out over to the school. We do it a month at a time. So it could be pretty labor intensive, especially when you’re older. The young kids have been so supportive. A lot of groups come in and help us.”



Montgomery Standard

115 W. Third St.
PO Box 190
Montgomery City, MO 63361


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