BackPack Program

We partner with nonprofit organizations and local schools to make sure kids are nourished when they no longer have access to school meals.

By providing kid-friendly, nutritious foods for kids to take home and share with their siblings and families, we are giving thousands of children a better opportunity to succeed in and out of the classroom. 

About

Tens of thousands of children in our 10-county service area struggle with food insecurity. While many receive free or reduced-priced meals in school, when school is closed during weekends and holidays — or during a pandemic — many of those children go hungry. 

Foodlink’s BackPack Program — part of a Feeding America-wide initiative — 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). 

Major supporters of the program include Wegmans (Fill the Bus campaign) and the Avangrid Foundation, in partnership with RG&E. 

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

Impact

  • 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.

  • Foodlink delivered more than 70,000 BackPacks to area schools during the 2019-20 school year. 

  •  92% of survey respondents (children) said that they felt happy and thankful to receive the bags each week.  
"Philosophically, we always feel that it's important for a kid to be able to learn on a full stomach. If they have breakfast in the morning, it provides with them with the energy that they need for sustained attention, and to get through the day -- so that they don't have to worry about their hunger pains or where their next meal is going to come from."
Dave Santangelo
Counselor, Fairbanks Road Elementary School (Churchville-Chili CSD)
“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 put food on the table. 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.”
Caseworker
Livingston County BackPack Program partner
"We were helped greatly with the food sent home, especially at a time when I wasn’t sure how to make ends meet with five grandchildren."
Audrey
Grandmother of local charter school student

Members of the public can donate to the program — $120 feeds one child for an entire school year. That’s just $3 a week from September through June!

Make a Donation

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Foodlink
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Thank you!

On behalf of all of us here at Foodlink, thank you very much for your generosity. Your donation will allow us to increase our investment in regional food and local people to build a healthier community!