People may think they know about our BackPack Program, but we want to give you an inside look during Hunger Action Month. Just because school is starting up again, that does not guarantee students will no longer be hungry.

Our BackPack Program provides pre-K through fifth grade students with healthy meals over the weekends and holidays when free or reduced-priced lunches are not being received through the National School Lunch Program.

Distribution of the backpacks begins the first week of October and continues throughout the remainder of the school year, a total of 33 weeks. First, we give students and their families time to settle into the school routine. This allows the school and parents time to complete the required paperwork as well.

Once it is time for the program to begin, backpacks are filled with nutritious, child friendly food items by individual and group volunteers. They are discreetly sent home on Fridays and returned back to the school empty on Mondays to be refilled for the next Friday. During holiday breaks, students in the program receive a double portion of food to help eliminate the risk of missing meals during longer breaks away from school.

The backpacks are sent home with students, and we find most students are proud to be in the program. They are not embarrassed or scared to talk about their experience. The kids look forward to receiving, what they call their, “groceries” at the end of each week.

In order to continuously improve the program, we send out a survey to be completed by both kids, parents and school staff at the end of the school year.

With current funding, the program currently serves 14 elementary schools located in Ascension, East Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee Parishes. Still, there are more than 25 schools on the waiting list. The program receives funding from individuals but primarily depends on grants and corporate donations.

Financial donations, hosting a food drive and volunteering to pack bags are the three ways you can help the Backpack Program expand to serve more schools. Learn more information about these ways you can help by calling 225-359-9940 or emailing info@brfoodbank.org.