Since 1997, Feed the City has been providing needy families with food for a Thanksgiving meal.
In 2013, the program is expanding its reach to include a weekly program which will feed needy children in Fort Valley, thanks to a $50,000 grant from Wal-marts Fighting Hunger Together initiative.
Linda Thomas, food bank director of New Hope International, said she has seen the yearly Thanksgiving meal program grow from a dozen needy families to nearly 2,000 in Feed the Citys 15 years.
The grant will allow the program to feed 75 to 83 children each weekend during the school year. There will be enough food for breakfast, lunch and two snacks.
Jennifer Walker, board chairwoman, submitted an application after seeing an ad on Facebook.
I thought it was a wonderful opportunity, Walker said.
The day she found out about being a finalist was Oct. 16, which happened to coincide on the first Feed the City Awareness Day.
Walker received the news about winning the grant earlier this week.
The program will start in January by taking applications through Peach County schools, social services and referrals.
We will be supplying the social work intern for all of these efforts, Sonja Shavers, professor at Fort Valley State University in the social services department, said.
There will be 25 to 40 students who will help with the process, from processing applications to handing out backpacks at the schools.
Shavers said the program should be ready to distribute the food-filled backpacks by mid-February.
Its really going to be a blessing, said Jana Byrd, vice chairwoman of Feed the City.
This is one way of taking on a mission for our vision to feed families throughout the year, she said.
For more information about the application process or to donate, visit www.feedthecity.net.