BackPack Program

About the program

Tens of thousands of children in our 10-county service area receive free or reduced-price lunch at school. But when school is closed during weekends and holidays, many of those children go hungry. Foodlink’s BackPack Program provides children in need with bags of nutritious food they can discreetly take home and easily prepare on their own. The bags typically weigh about five pounds and contain items from all the food groups (according to MyPlate.gov). 

Good nutrition is critical to good health and success at school. Children who don’t get enough to eat often have:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lower Math and English scores
  • Difficulty interacting with peers
  • Trouble finishing tests in time
  • Lower graduation rates

In a typical year, the BackPack Program serves more than 3,000 children at more than 80 schools within Foodlink’s 10-county service area. Generous community support from Wegmans’ annual Fill the Bus campaign provides thousands of pounds of non-perishable food that we use throughout the school year.

Major supporters of the program include Delta Air Lines and the Avangrid Foundation, in partnership with RG&E.

 

 

 

 

Other support has been generously provided by the Woodforest Charitable Foundation and Fidelis Care.

How you can help

Donate to the program — $100 feeds one child for an entire school year. That’s just $2.50 a week! You can choose to sponsor the BackPack Program at many levels: from covering one child for a month all the way up to sponsoring an entire school. 100% of your monetary donations go directly to buying, packing, and distributing food to hungry kids.

Become a BackPack site and help hungry kids in your school. Thinking about becoming a BackPack site? Some things to consider are: how students in need will be identified, how you will receive and store BackPacks, how they can be distributed discreetly, and who will be in charge of the program.

Contact Carrie Hoey at (585) 413-4098 or choey@foodlinkny.org for more information.

 

The impact

A caseworker at one of Foodlink’s partners in Livingston County recently had this to say about the BackPack Program, and what it means to the students who receive food every Friday afternoon:

“A couple months ago a high school student confided in his teacher that food insecurity was a problem in his home. His mom works full time but doesn’t qualify for assistance, and is barely able to make ends meet. We called the mom and offered assistance with the BackPack Program and connected them with other resources. She was sobbing on the phone, and so grateful for the help to feed her growing boys.

“I see a handful of student get their backpacks each week. One little boy in particular is so grateful. You would think I’m handing him one million dollars. It makes these students feel loved and cared for by meeting a basic need that may not otherwise be met. Without the assistance of Foodlink our program would need to be scaled back and serve less people. The manpower and amount of food it takes to serve this many can be overwhelming, but Foodlink makes it possible!”