Media Room

For more information or to schedule an interview, email us.

Piedmont Macon Supports Backpack Ministry's Efforts to Help Students Who Go Hungry

Macon, Ga. (November 28, 2023) -- When Robin Parker, a member of Piedmont Macon’s executive team, was looking for opportunities for hospital leaders to serve the community in a meaningful way, she heard about a Macon church packing up food for Bibb County school children to eat on the weekends.

She knew this was the perfect place for Piedmont Macon to get involved.

The Backpack Ministry relies on community partnerships, including those with both Piedmont Macon Medical Center and Piedmont Macon North Hospital, to make the program work.

“This really is a fantastic effort that our team and so many others in this community feel strongly about,” said Parker, the executive director of Community Development & Patient Support Services at Piedmont Macon. "What could be worse than young children going home on the weekends, not knowing whether they will get anything to eat or not?

“During the week, the students can get breakfast and lunch at their school,” she said. “But it’s on the weekends when these students are most vulnerable, and that’s where this program really makes an impact on their lives.”

The Backpack Ministry, which began at Forest Hills Church in 2011, initially helped nine students from a single school. Since then, the ministry has expanded its reach to more than 2,100 children across 24 schools in Bibb, Monroe and Twiggs counties, according to the church’s website. Additionally, eight other midstate churches have created their own similar ministries, helping an additional 450 students in need.

Piedmont Macon Medical and Piedmont Macon North employees, who first got involved in the ministry in 2017, support it in a variety of ways. At Macon North, an employee team volunteers twice a month to pack bags – which often includes four drinks, three proteins, three fruits, three snacks and two breakfast items – that are distributed to the schools each Friday. Across town at Piedmont Macon Medical, teams of two employees deliver backpacks three times a month to Burdell-Hunt Elementary School, an inner-city school near the hospital’s campus.

“I feel so fortunate to be able to volunteer for such a worthwhile ministry in our community,” said Janelle Holleman, the Health Information Management operations manager for Piedmont Macon. “The bags of food that we prepare and are able to provide to children in so many schools, it’s such a blessing!”

In all, nearly 40 Piedmont Macon employees across both hospital campuses volunteer with the ministry, doing everything from stocking shelves, packing bags, cleaning bins and delivering backpacks.

“Just whatever is needed, we step up,” Parker said.

Additionally, Piedmont Macon’s employees have raised hundreds of dollars for the cause through the hospitals’ Blue Jean Fridays fundraiser, which requires hospital staff to purchase stickers for the right to wear jeans on Fridays. In November, the two hospitals also held a food drive to help replenish the Backpack Ministry’s shelves.

Angie Walker, executive director of Human Resources at Piedmont Macon, said food insecurity among school children in Middle Georgia is real.

“It hurts my heart to think that children go home on the weekend and have nothing to eat,” she said. “It’s terribly sad that in 2023, there are children in America who go without, but it makes me happy to know that I’m helping to give them full bellies so they can go back to the classroom on Mondays ready to learn.”

Parker said Piedmont Macon sees the ministry as a way to give back to the community and serve others.

“This is a way we can help the less fortunate,” she said. “It’s just another example of us making a positive difference in the lives of people in our community.”

Back to Top

Piedmont App

Download the Piedmont Now app

  • Directions
  • Indoor Hospital Navigation
  • Find & Save Physicians
  • Online Scheduling

Download the app today!

Get the Piedmont Now on Google Play Get the Piedmont Now on iTunes App Store