OCEANSIDE — What would you do with 250 jars of peanut butter?
Girl Scout Troop 1315 of Carlsbad donated exactly that much peanut butter to Got Your Back San Diego, a program that provides meals for children who don’t have regular access to food.
Got Your Back San Diego was founded in 2011 by local business owners Bill and Sue McLeod after the couple found out that more than 26,000 children in San Diego County are either homeless or experience food insecurity.
According to the organization, hunger can be harmful to anyone but is particularly damaging to children because of their higher vulnerability to long-term consequences, like health issues and behavioral challenges.
Hunger can hinder a child’s ability to learn and function.
Childhood hunger is often associated with truancy, hyperactivity, aggression, anxiety, mood swings, bullying and fighting with other children.
Children experiencing hunger are also more susceptible to bone and muscle issues, and are at higher risk for conditions like anemia and asthma.
Got Your Back San Diego serves a small portion of children in the tri-city area where there are more than 7,000 elementary-age students experiencing food insecurity when they are at home during the weekend.
Volunteers come to the organization’s warehouse in Oceanside to fill backpacks with two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and a few healthy snacks every week to help sustain those children for the weekend.
Volunteers also deliver the backpacks to schools on Thursdays where they are distributed to the children who need them. The empty backpacks from the week before are also collected during this time only to be filled again.
The backpacks also include interactive homework assignments that teach children about food and how to make healthy food choices.
According to Heather Netzer, a parent of one of the Girl Scouts, Sue McLeod gave the scouts a tour of the food pantry and taught them about what the organization does.
“The girls saw the ‘fruits of their labor’ for the peanut butter drive, and really understood how they are helping out,” Netzer told The Coast News.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son