(CLARKSVILLE, TN (CLARKSVILLE NOW) – There are many in the Clarksville-Montgomery County area who might not be aware of the prevalence of child hunger in our community, but the F.U.E.L. Ministry is working to feed those children.
Denise Skidmore, founder and executive director, said F.U.E.L. is a food subsidization program which began in 2004 and helps those children whose only food source may be the food they receive from their meals at school. The children are chosen by the schools, not based on income, but based on signs of hunger.
Skidmore said even with the pandemic, the F.U.E.L. program has not changed, adding that the ministry is still out there helping children sustain their healths, still trying to fight child hunger. The pandemic has just made it a little more difficult than it has been in the past.
With some students learning in-person and others utilizing virtual learning, Skidmore the numbers of the students they serve are always fluctuating. At the end of the summer in 2020, F.U.E.L. volunteers were bagging 7,000 bags of food a week. Now, they are right around 1,500 bags of food a week.
“We’re still in every school, we’re still being supported by the school system, still making every attempt to get food out to the children, and we’re still identifying children,” Skidmore said.
The food provided by F.U.E.L. is put in individual bags and taken to the schools for the students who are part of in-person learning. On Friday, the children are called into a private area and the bags of food are placed in their backpacks.
The children who are learning virtually have the option of coming to the school and picking up their F.U.E.L. bags. Skidmore said virtual students are receiving payment at home for their lunch money for the food that they would have been getting through the school system.
When it comes to food donations for F.U.E.L., recommended items are pre-packaged and non-perishable food such as small cereal boxes, pudding & fruit cups, meat sticks, packaged crackers, granola bars, 100% fruit juice boxes and tuna in a pouch. Monetary donations are also accepted which are used to purchase food.
Skidmore said that F.U.E.L. isn’t financed by the government and thanked the community and the volunteers for their support and their donations, emphasizing that the great work of F.U.E.L. couldn’t continue without their help.
Sponsorship of a youngster is also available through the F.U.E.L. program. Skidmore said it costs them about $230 each year to feed one child. Individuals can make a financial donation of $230, or make plans to host a F.U.E.L. food collection or fundraising event with your church, business, group, or civic organization.
One fundraising event coming up to support the work of F.U.E.L. is the 14th Annual Appetite for Art, hosted by the Clarksville Association of Realtors and the S.O.S. Foundation. Appetite for Art will take place Friday, April 9 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Silo Event Center in Hopkinsville.
To learn more or to donate to the F.U.E.L. program, go to fuelforkids.org, call 931-624-3181, or mail F.U.E.L. at P.O. Box 31176, Clarksville, Tennessee 37040.
Giving Grace, sponsored by Grace Dental, is an ongoing Clarksville Now series showcasing local nonprofit organizations.