The BackPack program
The BackPack program provides over 4,500 children at-risk of hunger with a supply of easy-open, nutritious foods for the weekend.
In Georgia and South Carolina, one in four children live in families at or below the federal poverty level. These children often receive assistance from programs operating during the week, such as free or reduced price lunches and after school programs. However, it is over the weekend that many of these children risk going hungry. These children come back to school on Mondays, famished and weak, thinking only of the free meal that will come at breakfast and/or lunch time.
How you can Help
BackPack sites are in constant need of funding and volunteers to pick up backpacks from Golden Harvest Food Bank to deliver to the school sites. BackPacks cost $5 a week per student, a total of $20/month during the school year. You can help feed a child in the program all year by becoming a monthly donor online- it’s quick and easy!
More about this program
Golden Harvest Food Bank bridges the Weekend Meal Gap with the BackPack Program. To fill the place of free lunches that are available during the week, the program provides hungry children with meal packs to take home each Friday. Golden Harvest Food Bank provides the BackPacks and transports them to the participating site, usually an elementary school. On the last day of the school week, the BackPacks are discreetly placed in the students’ book bags by staff and volunteers. As a result of the program, each child receives a bag of child-friendly, ready-to-eat foods and returns to school on Monday, well-fed and ready to learn.
THE CHILDREN WE SERVE
School administrators, counselors, and teachers work together to identify the children who suffer from hunger. Typically, the school administration begins by consulting the school’s McKinney-Vento list, which names the students who are homeless, in transitional housing, or living in non-permanent housing like hotels and shelters. When the program is fully funded, every student on this list receives a BackPack. Counselors then meet with the student services workers and look at the list that identifies students who receive free lunch and are living in a home with an income of less than 30% of Federal Poverty Standards. They also accept teacher requests, because teachers often know the students and their situations best.
“I like it because it helps me. I like the apple sauce, but my brother eats it all. My baby brother likes the chili.” — 1st Grade Student
“Sometimes that’s the only food we have. We eat it and we like it.” — 3rd Grade Student
“We try to be discreet when we distribute our bags so our children aren’t embarrassed. Every now and then, the BackPack students will see us passing by with our buggy and whisper a ‘thank you’ knowing we just left a bag for them.” — Volunteer