By Joshua Huff, sports editor
MOODY — The Moody City Council made a point to push agenda item number eight into the forefront of Monday afternoon’s meeting as the Christmas Parade Committee recognized 2019 Grand Marshals Sheilah and Joe Vick for their service to the community and their fight to end hunger inequality.
Sheilah started a local chapter of the Backpack Buddies program in the fall of 2013 after she noticed that students at Moody Elementary were doing all they can to eat as much food as possible, even peering longingly into trash cans at discarded apples, as a story in The Leeds Tribune noted.
“When we began this program, this was never in our eyesight, to be recognized for this,” Joe said. “We just wanted to feed children.”
The program, which is in its seventh year, serves the children of Leeds, the Pell City School system and St. Clair County. Backpack Buddies is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing children with food when they’re away from school. The program started with serving just two brothers at Moody Elementary.
“I want to thank Joe and Sheilah for their contribution that (they) have made for the backpack program and (wish) them continued success,” Moody Mayor Joe Hall said.
This past year, Backpack Buddies provided over 700 food bags for more than 35 schools. The bags, which are packed with non-perishable food and snacks, are discreetly placed into children’s backpacks each Friday so they have something to eat over the weekend. Mostly, the bags contain juice boxes, peanut butter, granola bars, one complete meal, fruit boxes and other nutritional items that equate to over 2,000 calories per day. In addition to the food, children receive one bag of hygiene items three times a year.
The children receive extra bags of food during the holidays.
Each bag costs about $5.
To help with the costs, Sheilah and Joe, her husband, enlist sponsors to help fight hunger inequality. Those sponsors agree to take responsibility of feeding a particular school. According to Sheilah, the majority of sponsors are churches.
Backpack Buddies serves children ranging from pre-kindergarten up through 12th grade. The children are screened for allergies and are identified by counselors, teachers and principals.
“I first want to thank our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, because this program was totally inspired by him,” Joe said. “He has blessed us, and we couldn’t do it without them. Also our sponsors, who have helped us, and everybody who has donated food or whatever. It has meant a ton to us and has kept us feeding these children over this period of time.”