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Small Favors, A Big Assurance

Photo - Nicole Jenkins

Like many families, Roseville residents Nicole and David Jenkins have been struggling through the economic downturn. Nicole is a stay-at-home mom of two sons, while David works in shipping and receiving at a steel manufacturing company.

The Jenkins’ eldest son, Jonathan (6), was diagnosed with autism. Medical bills and special dietary needs have been a strain on the family’s finances — and they are about to lose their insurance coverage. Moreover, the family of four doesn’t qualify for public aid because David makes just above the eligibility threshold.

In fall of 2011, Gleaners introduced the BackPack Program at Jonathan’s school, Global Preparatory Academy in Roseville. Every Friday, fifty students receive the equivalent of six meals in their BackPacks. The food ensures that these kids, who receive free or reduced-fee meals during the school week, won’t go hungry over the weekend.

“It’s been ridiculously helpful,” says Nicole. “There have been situations where it’s been lifesaving.”

Though eating healthfully is a priority for the Jenkins — especially for Jonathan, who requires well-rounded nutrition — they found themselves making heartbreaking sacrifices. The BackPack Program has made it possible for them to maintain stable meals for their sons, while not falling behind on other living expenses.