ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — An area school hunger program is in search of volunteers to pack backpacks with food items.

The Mountain Lion Backpack Program works to make sure children (kindergarten through 5th grade) within the Altoona Area School District have meals and snacks to eat throughout the weekend.

“The program started in 2011, so 2021 was our tenth year,” said Program Director Amber Smith.

Smith said the program packs food bags every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. “The more volunteers we have helping, the quicker we can get the bags packed,” she said.

Smith said many people are surprised to learn that child hunger is a problem in our community. “One in four children in our area do not know where their next meal is coming from. They go to school each day, and they can rely on breakfast, and lunch programs but then after that — what do they do on Saturday and Sunday?”

If you’re interested in volunteering with the Mountain Lion Backpack Program, the first packing event is Thursday, January 13th from 5 .m. – 6 p.m. at 2900 Beale Ave in Altoona. For more information on the program visit their website or give Amber a call at (814) 946-3651.

If you can’t volunteer, the program is always looking for food items or monetary donations. “Canned pasta is a really good one. mac n’ cheese, ramen noodles, juice boxes or a juice pouch. Pudding, fruit cups, oatmeal, cracker packs, small boxes of raisins, cans of soup or beans for that protein,” says Smith.

You can find a complete list of items on the Mountain Lion Backpack Program Wish List by visiting their website.

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