In a county where more than 18% of our families live at or below poverty level, many children rely on free or reduced meals at school to meet their nutritional needs. But what do these children have to eat when school is not in session? The Backpack Feeding Program was developed to help ensure that every child has access to nutritious food when school is out by providing a pack of child-friendly, healthy food to take home before school dismisses for the weekend or holiday break.
Each week volunteers pack plastic grocery bags with nutritious, non-perishable, “open-and-eat” items suitable for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks and deliver them to school personnel who discretely place the bags in the children’s backpacks during lunch or recess. Backpack items may include cereal, peanut butter or cheese crackers, granola bars, applesauce or fruit cups, snack mixes, juice boxes, fresh fruit, and pudding cups.
We currently serve approximately 60 students each week at Junior Elementary School and Volga-Century Elementary School. Several local churches and individuals have joined our efforts, providing financial support, food supplies and volunteer service. In addition we continue to encourage other churches and organizations to consider how they might partner together to implement a similar program in their neighborhood schools, sharing our experiences and providing information to help them get the program started. Our hope is that eventually all children in our county schools will have access to a Backpack Feeding Program in their school.
If you would like to volunteer or provide food for this program, please contact us for more details. Monetary donations are welcome and should be marked “Backpack Feeding Program.”
Items needed for backpacks include:
- applesauce cups
- cereal (individual serving sizes)
- cheese or peanut butter crackers
- fruit cups
- granola bars
- juice (individual serving sizes)
- pudding cups