The BackPack program, which sends children home from school each week with bags of kid-friendly, nonperishable, vitamin-fortified food from all five food groups, has received positive feedback from parents of students in the program, according to a 2015-2016 school year survey done by the Foodbank.
More than 90% of parents said the BackPack program has positively impacted their family, the survey revealed. Approximately 1,100 students receive a backpack each week, totaling 135,000 pounds of food for children in need last year. The program is funded in part from a grant from Feeding America from the Red Nose Day Fund, as well as by community sponsors and donors to the Foodbank.
Seventy-two percent of families whose child receive a backpack are also accessing other food assistance programs like 3SquaresVT, the WIC program for women, infants, and young children, and food shelves. Guidance counselors, school nurses and other staff identify students in who would likely benefit from extra food, and send permission slips home to their parents explaining the program.
Parents described the program as “helpful” and “awesome.” One parent said: “Hopefully the BackPack program will follow my son to middle school.
Other results from the survey show that the program is helping families in need save money (80% agreed) and 81% said their child eats all of the food in the packs. The food can also help food insecurity at the family level – 66% of respondents said the food was shared with other siblings in the family, and the same percentage said food was used to supplement family meals.
“It’s a lovely program. It helps children out who need extra food,” a parent wrote on the survey. “The food prices are getting very expensive lately, and we love the program. It helps out a lot.”
“Somewhat of a lifesaver,” wrote another.
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