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, a backpack means much more – it means a weekend with a full belly.
With each new school year, the Vermont Foodbank wants to do everything it can to ensure that the youth in our communities don’t go hungry over the weekend. Beginning in October 2008, the Foodbank launched a weekend feeding program for children called the BackPack™ Program. This nationally recognized program of Feeding America is 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.
How does the Program work?
Bags of child-friendly, nonperishable, vitamin fortified food from all five food groups are packed at the Vermont Foodbank and then distributed to participating schools. Guidance counselors, along with school nurses and other staff, will determine those students they deem most in need and send permission slips home to their parents explaining the program. To reduce any stigma, packs of food are placed into the backpacks of those children participating in the program while the students are not in the classroom.
The packs will contain about eight food items for the weekend; each pack contains similar items. Some of the items might be: Canned fruit and veggies, cereal, milk, cheese, and soup.
During the 2012-2013 school year the following schools are participating in the BackPack Program:
• Barre City School
• Barre Town School
• Spaulding High School
• Northfield Elementary School
• Northfield Middle and High School
• Roxbury Village School
• Sutton Village School
• Brighton Elementary School
• The Saint Johnsbury School
• Oak Grove School, Brattleboro
• Green Street School, Brattleboro
• Northeast Elementary School, Rutland
• Northwest Elementary School, Rutland
• Lunenburg and Gilman School
• Waitsfield Elementary School
• Winooski Elementary School
• Berlin Elementary School
• Molly Stark Elementary, Bennington
Seven hundred youth receive food packs each week. In a year's time, the Vermont Foodbank will package nearly 20,000 bags, or 63,000 pounds of food for children in need.
Schools are selected for the program each year based on funding available and percentage of youth participating in free and reduced priced lunch at the schools.
This program is made possible through the generous support of the Rona Jaffe Foundation, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Vermont Country Store, Ameriprise Financial, the Bufka Foundation, Target, The Morris and Bessie Altman Foundation, and The Turrell Fund.
For more information about this program, contact:
Jennifer Hutchinson, Youth Programs Manager and Network Partner Support