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Putnam Education Partnership Announces New Service Award

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Putnam Education Partnership Announces New Service Award

The Putnam Education Partnership introduced a new annual award Wednesday in honor of a member and the foundation’s 10th year of serving families.

Board President Brandon Smith presented the Rick Burnett Servant’s Heart Award. Partnership Board Member and Pastor Rick Burnett said he credits the honor to the volunteers that make the program possible.

“Second Harvest estimates that one out of every five kids in our area is in a food insecure household,” Burnett said. “I can’t fix some of the bigger problems, but we can work together to make sure the kids around us have good food to eat and a chance to learn and grow, move out of that cycle of poverty and have a better life.”

The partnership operates a backpack program that feeds Putnam County students. Executive Director Katelyn Steakley said 90,000 meals have been distributed this year. Steakley said each week up to 900 students are served meals and snacks.

“At the core of what we are doing today and all the things we will be doing as a foundation is removing barriers to learning for students in Putnam County,” Steakley said. “That is our ultimate goal that kids graduate into a fulfilling career and life. That all starts with meeting the needs of children.”

Over the last 10 years, Steakley said over 1.1 million meals have been provided to local families. Smith said Burnett deserved the honor for his role on the board over those years.

“We would not be where we are and done what we have done as a group without him,” Smith said. “So, we are excited to make that an annual award and name it after the best person we know to name it after.”


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