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'Mr. Pack it Up' addressing childhood hunger in Coopersville

Posted at 3:30 PM, Feb 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-28 19:35:06-05

COOPERSVILLE, Mich. — A retired teacher is still finding a big way to impact students. John Prichard has become the backbone of a program called "Pack it Up," which sends meals home with more than 100 students each day.

The meals are full of nutritious items like granola and fruit, ensuring that school lunch is not their last meal of the day.

Prichard, or "Mr. Pack it Up" as he's called, oversees the program and coordinates drop-offs.

"We're feeding 3-year-olds through 18-year-olds," he told FOX 17 News. "Every day I make deliveries to five school buildings, this week we're doing 143 (meals) per day, that's a little over 700."

During his 25-year teaching career, Prichard saw the need firsthand. He recalls one student in particular who would come to school hungry.

"He came to school everyday and we'd all have lunch and he didn't," Prichard explained. "So, I'd pack a lunch for him."

Now 79 and retired for more than two decades, Prichard is still helping students.

He and an army of volunteers work together to assemble take home meals each week for students who may otherwise go home hungry.

"John has been such a godsend for our program," said Reverend Cori Conran at Coopersville United Methodist Church. "If it wasn't for him, we would probably need two to three people just to take over for what he does, He's that vital to the program, that committed to serving."

She added, "The needs are quiet, people don't talk about them, but they're here, there is daily hunger with our kids and there's a lot of struggle feeding a lot of people."

Prichard has been involved with Pack it Up for more than five years, helping to feed students and ultimately fueling a better education.

For him, it's the best reason to stay busy in retirement.

"We try to do what Jesus would do," he said. "He said feed my children, feed my people and that's what we're working on and I think we're succeeding, I feel real good about the success of the program."

To learn more about Pack it Up or to donate, click here.

As the FOX 17 and Lake Michigan Credit Union Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Prichard is receiving a $300 prize.

Know someone who should be featured next month? Nominate them here.

Meet Jaiden Thompson, our January Pay it Forward Person of the Month.