The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 10, 2013

Mike Pound: Take a minute to help Healthy Tiger program

In the interest of fair disclosure, I need to say upfront that I have a personal interest in the subject of today’s column.

It is about the Healthy Tiger program, which began a few years ago as a weekend backpack program at Carthage Junior High School. The program was under the direction of food science instructor Kim Hoover. It has since grown into a districtwide effort.

Each week, Healthy Tiger volunteers — most of them students — fill backpacks with nonperishable food to help ensure that Carthage kids who need a little help have food for the weekend.

Sadly, many kids, not only in Carthage but throughout the country, rely on school lunches and breakfasts as their main source of nutrition, and when they’re not in school, they’re not getting the food they need. The Healthy Tiger program works to address that problem.

A chance conversation I had with Kim a few years ago led to a conversation with my wife that led to a lot of other conversations, and after a while, the junior high had a backpack program. As you can probably surmise, other than doing some talking, I didn’t have much to do with getting the program started. That work was handled by my wife, Kim and a host of other hardworking, dedicated people who want to make the Carthage School District the best it can be.

Scott Ragsdale is the principal at Pleasant Valley Elementary School. I first got to know Scott when he was the assistant principal at Carthage Middle School and our daughter, Emma, was a student there. Scott is one of your basic good guys, and he is involved with both the backpack program and the school district’s Bright Futures campaign.

A few days ago, I received an email from Scott, who said the Healthy Tiger backpack program recently applied for a $25,000 grant from the State Farm Insurance Neighborhood Assist program.

Out of more than 3,000 applicants, the Healthy Tiger program was chosen by the folks with State Farm as one of the top 200 causes in the nation. Once State Farm narrowed the list to 200 applicants, the company decided to turn the final decision over to the general public via a Facebook vote.

From now through April 22, people can visit https://www.state-assist.com/cause/1537/healthy-tigers-program and vote. The 40 causes that receive the most votes will be awarded $25,000. You may vote 10 times per day, and Scott said the voting process is fairly simple.

“I just checked, and right now, we’re 110 out of 200, so we need to move up,” Scott said.

By the way, I clicked on the link and was able to figure out the voting process, so if I can do it, anybody can.

Scott told me that 180 kids in the Carthage School District currently are enrolled in the backpack program, which takes in the elementary schools, the middle school and the junior high school. The high school also has an “as needed” food pantry for students to visit.

Over the years, I’ve heard some folks scoff at programs such as Healthy Tiger. There are some folks who don’t think school districts should be in the business of feeding kids. I guess I just don’t see that. It seems to me that if a teacher, administrator or school board member knows a child in the district is going hungry, they should do everything in their power to help.

The Healthy Tiger program is your basic neat deal. If you agree, you might take a minute to visit the link and cast your vote.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA for Mike Pound’s column? Call him at 417-623-3480, ext. 7259, or email him at mpound@joplinglobe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mikepoundglobe.

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