NEW PHILADELPHIA (WJER) (Jan. 11, 2024) – Tuscarawas County’s largest student take-home meal program has quietly changed hands.
TUFF Bags went from being administered by Tuscarawas County’s Juvenile Court to New Philadelphia First Church of the Nazarene in the new year. Lisa Walker remains the program coordinator and says that pretty much the only thing that has changed is who signs her paychecks.
“We’re in the same warehouse. Operations remain the same. Partnerships are still in tact. The United Way is still acting as our fiscal agent. We’ve not missed any deliveries or anything like that. There’s been no disruptions.”
TUFF Bags, short for Tuscarawas United Feeding our Future, started at the county health department as Blessings in a Backpack and now serves over 1,700 students from six local school systems. Walker says the latest move unlocks potential partnerships that could help the effort reach even more food-insecure children.
“And this is something that we’ve been working on for several months. It wasn’t something that was just a rash decision or it happened abruptly. For the most part, our partner schools and our donors and volunteers weren’t really aware that it was going on or that there has even been a change because the change has been so fluid.”
Volunteers pack the bags that go home with participating students ahead of weekends and school breaks, and donations help pay for the food that goes into them. For information, visit the TUFF Bags Facebook page.