Backpack meals help struggling students, families survive

March 7, 2024

At North Georgetown Elementary School,  at least 78 percent of the students – grades kindergarten through 5 – live in low-income households, reports School Counselor Janice Jester.

In this Title 1 school, at the end the last school year, 110 students received backpacks – or weekend meal bags.

Backpacks are stocked with kid-friendly, nutritious food including shelf stable milk and juice, pop-top cans, macaroni and cheese, apple sauce, cereal and more. Jester credits new enrollment with additional Backpack Program participants, though all the data is not in yet.

“I’m sure these numbers have changed with the fact that this year we have had an increase in newcomer registrations. The majority of the families are coming from Guatemala. During the registration process, the secretaries give our newcomers information about the Backpack Program.  Most of them accept the food since they have just arrived from another country and don’t really have very much when they arrive in our country.  Occasionally, parents ask about getting them.  That may be because they may know other students who receive them,” said Jester.

“All of our McKinney-Vento families automatically receive the bags.  Those are our families in transition who may be living in a hotel, shelter, or with others due to lack/loss of housing,” she added.

She believes students and their families are grateful for the extra food and support.  “Some of the older students don’t like to take them home in front of their classmates, so the teachers just try to let them get their bags quietly.  I leave them outside the classroom door, so I don’t disturb the classroom teachers and so there is privacy for the students,” Jester said

Proceeds from the annual Do More 24 campaign support the Food Bank’s Backpack Program. This year’s Do More 24 runs from 6 p.m. March 7 through 6 p.m. March 8; our goal is to raise $37,000.






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