The Breakdown of Second Harvest's BackPack Program
Currently, we are distributing backpack bags to 600 children for the 2011-2012 school year. But 2,100 other children similarly identified as food insecure are going without due to a lack of necessary funding.
For the 2,700 children who participate in the Second Harvest Kids Cafe Program, nutrition begins and ends with the school day. Breakfast and lunch are available free through their schools, and a nutritious after-school snack is provided by Second Harvest. However, during the weekends or extended school breaks like Christmas, many of these children go for days without food in their stomachs. Recognizing this problem, Second Harvest began the BackPack Program locally in 2008.
The BackPack Program helps feed children who live in poverty and are already receiving reduced-fee or free meals during the school week. The program bridges the gap in providing nutritious food outside of the school week when food resources are not readily available, such as weekends and on vacation breaks. Each Friday, a bag of food goes home in their backpacks to provide meals for the child and other members of the family.
Sending home food enough to provide a weekend’s worth of balanced meals for the entire family, results are two-fold. For the child, it means a return to school Monday alert and ready to thrive in the classroom; at the same time, reducing hunger insecurity at home improves living conditions, reducing anxiety and bolstering morale for both child and family.
In 2011, Second Harvest distributed 167,680 backpacks to 524 children in Jacksonville and the surrounding counties.
Second Harvest provided 524 children with food from the BackPack Program in 2011 through its Kids Cafe Program, but those children were selected from a group of 2,700 food insecure children living in poverty and equally eligible. All are deserving, and for the coming 2012-2013 school year, 200 more children are expected to be added to their ranks. Given their level of poverty and food insecurity, Second Harvest North Florida has set itself the enormous goal of providing weekend meals for every one of these 2,700 kids.
A bag of food per child (for them & their family) for the weekends during the 42-week school year costs only $100.
To learn more about enrolling your agency or child in the BackPack program, contact Director of Agency Relations Susan Evans at email@example.com.
To learn more about the BackPack Program, or to sponsor a child or Kids Cafe site, contact Kimberly Mariani, director of community engagement, at 904.517.517.5555 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.