A teacher overheard two boys talking in the hallway one morning. The first boy said. "I'm glad today is Monday." The second boy replied. "Are you crazy, we have school?" The first boy then said. "I get to eat today." And that conversation sparked the concept of the Backpack Buddies Program.
You probably already know that there are children in public school systems who receive a free lunch. Many of these children are sent home at the end of each week to a house with little or no food until the following school day. This is where Backpack Buddies steps in. Backpack Buddies is a nation-wide program that is managed locally. Each Friday these children, selected by school personnel and with approval from their parents, are given a backpack filled with easy-to-open, no-preparation required food to nourish them until they return to school.
In 2011, Feeding America alerted our nation to the staggering reality that seventeen million school children’s learning capabilities were at risk due to hunger. Temple Shalom’s Social Action Committee conducted discussions with school district leaders, nurses, teachers, and parents, all of whom confirmed that the children receiving federally-assisted school nutrition programs were still vulnerable by not having nutritious foods available to them on weekends. In order to minimize that gap, the Committee decided to initiate, administer, and grow a Backpack Buddies collaborative program with two elementary schools.
The Backpack Buddies Program at Temple Shalom has been successfully implemented for two school years at two elementary schools. The program entails working with each school’s key administrators and school nurse to identify and select ten students who meet the qualifications for the federally-assisted school nutrition program during the school week. The goal of the program is to provide nutritious food for these children during the weekends, when they might otherwise have little or no food available to them.
Every aspect of this program is coordinated, implemented, and overseen by concerned and dedicated volunteers. To ensure total privacy for children and families, the name, address and all information about the student is NOT known by any of the Backpack Buddies volunteers. Every cent of all funds granted or donated to the Backpack Buddies Program goes to the purchase of food and milk for the student recipients.
If you are interested in finding out more about this program, or would like to make a donation, please contact Helene at email@example.com or Lou at firstname.lastname@example.org.