Backpacks full of food!
We started giving out backpacks full of food to hungry children in 2009. Since then we have sent home over 1.1 million pounds of food! Each student backpack has over 10 pounds of nutritious snacks and basic staples to meet the needs of their family for snacks and weekend meals. Students take the backpacks home each Friday and return them the following week for a refill. In a typical school year about 400 children take advantage of our backpack program each week.
A typical food backpack may contain:
cartons of shelf stable milk
instant oatmeal packets
cans of tuna or chicken
boxes or bags of pasta or rice
a box of pancake or muffin mix
cans of chili
jars of peanut butter
Food Pantries in Middle and High Schools
We have recognized that many of our students in need feel uncomfortable carrying home a backpack of food. To address their needs we have established Food Pantries in the local middle and high schools. Students can access this food to meet their nutritional needs at school or to confidentially take food home with them. We typically serve over 40 students at any given time who are homeless or separated from their family and rely upon our pantry to provide them with a significant share of their food. In total, over 500 students a month use our food pantries for basic nutrition and snacks.
We have heard heart breaking stories from our students who use our food pantry to not only feed themselves but also feed their siblings. School counselors have full access to our pantries and frequently use of food to address issues of hunger and food insecurity.
COVID-19 and Drive By Food Distribution
The COVID-19 epidemic has created a serious need for supplemental food within our community. Many families have lost jobs and are struggling to feed their children. We are currently distributing much more food to many more families than ever before in the 11 year history of our program.
As soon as schools closed in March of 2020, we had to radically change our approach – we immediately
began weekly distribution of food via “drive by” pick up at three locations. We were the first and
only organization in our community to do so.
As the COVID situation continues, the need for food has increased significantly - more than doubled. We are currently serving 456 children and their families each week through three “drive by” pick-up locations. Each family receives between 20 and 40 pounds of food based upon need - enough food to help sustain them for an entire week. We are currently distributing over 6,000 pounds of food each week!
In the weeks since schools have closed, we have distributed over 75,500 pounds of food with a retail value over $185,000. Our drive by distributions allow us to give more food to each family in need - we are also able to now provide fresh dairy, fresh produce and other perishable items!
Crock Pots in the Home
Food Backpacks 4 Kids gives a free crock pot to any family that needs one. Crock pots are an easy way to turn basic staples into a delicious and nutritious meal for the entire family. Our food backpacks contain items that work well in Crock Pot meals and this has been a very popular program.