Imagine you’re sitting at home watching tv and your stomach growls only for you to discover you have no food and no way to get food anytime soon.

This circumstance is an unfortunate reality for many students in our community and the pandemic only exacerbated this problem. Our BackPack Program provides Pre-K through fifth grade students with nutritious, child-friendly meals over the weekends and holidays when free or reduced-priced lunches are not being received through the National School Lunch Program. However, in response to the pandemic, the program was paused as classes began moving online resulting in no way to distribute the food to students in need.

Under normal operations, the Food Bank would begin our BackPack program in October to allow students and their families time to settle into the school routine and complete the required paperwork. Sadly, with some schools being all virtual or a hybrid of virtual and in-person, we were unable to find a logistical way to ensure children had their bags of nonperishable food before the weekend.

With this challenge, we were forced to delay the program to January of 2021, for the second half of the 2020-2021 school year. We do still face the challenge of some schools frequently having to quarantine their staff and students resulting in the pause of some orders.

Still, despite the pandemic, we have been able to resume our BackPack Program and continue serving a total of 19 schools equating to 1,320 students. As of the end of March 2021, we have distributed close to 16,000 kits of nonperishable food to students during the second half of the school year. While the program does receive some funding from individuals, the program is in large part made possible through grants and corporate donations. To learn more about donating to the BackPack Program, contact Janet Pace at 225-359-9940.