BOPIC, Inc. receives the Summer Champion Award

April 20, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER |
  • Representatives from BOPIC, Inc. of Chambersburg, Pa., receive the Summer Champion Award from the United States Department of Agriculture and presented by the Pennsylvania Department of Education on Friday at their office at 530 S. Main St. Pictured from left are, Laurie Kepner, administrator for the Summer Food Service Program for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Bob Hoover, BOPIC treasurer, Jack Jones, BOPIC president of the board of directors, Isabel Stennett, BOPIC Summer Food Service Program Co-Director, and Mary Ringenberg, education administration specialist for the Summer Food Service Program for the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
By Roxann Miller

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — The number of Americans going hungry has skyrocketed to almost 50 million, including nearly one in four children, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture which recognized a Chambersburg nonprofit organization Friday for its summer food program.

 BOPIC, Inc. — Building Our Pride In Chambersburg, Main Street, Chambersburg — was the only organization in south central Pennsylvania to receive the Summer Champion Award from the agriculture department, which was presented by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

 Laurie Kepner, administrator for the Summer Food Service Program for the education department, said BOPIC was selected from 245 other organizations because of its leadership and dedication.

 “They go above and beyond the call of duty, because feeding kids is what it’s all about,” Kepner said.

 She said school districts provide meals to children during the school year, but when classes end for the summer, some children go hungry.

 “BOPIC is meeting a big need in the community with its Summer Food Service Program,” she said.

BOPIC provides two meals a day, five days a week at no charge during the summer months for economically disadvantaged children residing in the Borough of Chambersburg and Franklin County.

 Jack Jones, president of the BOPIC board of directors, said the program typically serves 600 children. The organization also has a summer educational program in which 325 children are enrolled.

 Although the grassroots organization was recognized for its outstanding service in 2011, both Jones and Kepner worry about feeding hungry children in the midst of a budget crisis.

 “Hunger insecurity is becoming an epidemic,” Kepner said.

In 2011, BOPIC’s summer program cost $157,000 with the state only reimbursing $67,000. Jones said the remaining $90,000 had to come from the United Way, and donations from individuals, churches and businesses.

  “I have never seen that many children enrolled (last summer) in BOPIC during my entire time working with BOPIC,” Jones said. “The large number of requests to provide structured services, activities and meals for the children has tripled easily. The money — the donations have not,” he said.

 Donations are not flowing in as they had when the economy was stronger, so cuts have to be made, Jones said. Normally, BOPIC offers services to preschool children, but it will not offer them this summer due to financial constraints.

 BOPIC began it’s fundraising about three weeks ago, and donations are behind where they were last year, he said.

 ”We started earlier — so we probably have a target of $35,000 as a deficit. But we’re not going to allow a $35,000 deficit to occur without addressing program services,” Jones said.

“We’ll be forced to eliminate wherever we can. I think it’s time to renew our request to the community that anything you can do for us financially, donations would be gratefully appreciated.”

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