All school-aged children today have one thing in common: the ever-present backpack. For most kids, a backpack might contain books and other school supplies. For children participating in the BackPack Program, it means much more: a weekend with a full belly.
In October 2008, the Foodbank launched the BackPack Program, a weekend nutrition program designed to meet the needs of hungry children at times when other resources, like school breakfast and lunch, are not available, such as weekends and school vacations. BackPack is a nationally-recognized program of Feeding America.
How does the BackPack Program work?
Bags of kid-friendly, nonperishable, vitamin-fortified food from all five food groups are packed and distributed to participating schools. Guidance counselors, school nurses and other staff identify students most in need and send permission slips home to their parents explaining the program. To reduce any stigma, the food is placed into the backpacks of participating children while students are not in the classroom. Some of the items might be canned fruit, canned veggies, cereal, milk, cheese, and soup.
Schools are selected to participate in the program based on the percentage of youth eligible for free lunches at the school, as well as the amount of funding the Vermont Foodbank has obtained to support the program.
The following schools participate in the BackPack Program:
- Alburgh Elementary School
- Barre City School
- Barre Town School
- Barton Graded School
- Bennington Elementary School
- Berlin Elementary School
- Brighton Elementary School
- Central Elementary School, Bellows Falls
- Green Street School, Brattleboro
- Isle La Motte Elementary School
- Lunenburg and Gilman School
- Molly Stark Elementary, Bennington
- Morristown Elementary School
- Newport City Elementary School
- Northeast Elementary School, Rutland
- Northfield Elementary School
- Northfield Middle and High School
- Northwest Elementary School, Rutland
- Oak Grove School, Brattleboro
- Roxbury Village School
- The Saint Johnsbury School
- Spaulding High School
- Troy Elementary School
- Williamstown Elementary School
- Winooski Elementary School
One thousand youth will receive backpacks each week through the BackPack Program. In a year’s time, the Vermont Foodbank will package approximately 35,000 bags or 123,000 pounds of food for children in need.
This program is made possible through the generous support of WalMart, Sodexo, Unilever, Tillotson Foundation, Proteus Fund, Procter & Gamble, Bufka Foundation, Rona Jaffe Foundation, National Life Group, United Church of Hinesburg, Barre Lions Club, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Seventh Generation, Turrell Fund, and Dead River Company.
Your contributions also make this program possible! Please consider giving to the Vermont Foodbank today.
Here's what teachers are saying about the BackPack Program:
“Monday mornings are much better! Less lethargy, complaints and visits to nurses.”
“Children with poor attendance are always here on food days”
“Children are more socially involved with peers since the startup of the program.”
“They seem to have a sense of calm knowing that they have food on the weekends.”
For more information about this program, contact:
Youth Programs Manager and Network Partner Support
Learn more about other Vermont Foodbank youth programs.