Backpack program helps kids through holiday break

December 7, 2018

Children across the state are counting down the days until the highly-anticipated holiday break. No school for more than week! For many children, this time will be spent playing with holiday gifts and participating in family activities. For other children, it’s a time of worry. No access to school meals creates uncertainty and anxiety for children who don’t always know where their next nutritious meal will come from.

Fortunately, thanks to a $7,500 donation from Food Lion, we will be able to provide additional food over the holiday break to children participating in our Backpack program. This generous donation is on top of a $10,000 donation Food Lion has already made towards the program!

We can’t feed more than 5,000 children through the program without the support of generous sponsors. The Backpack program is an important lifeline for children and provides food to children in need for weekends and holidays when school is not in session and federal school meal programs are not available.  Backpacks are stocked with kid-friendly, nutritious foods including cereal, shelf-stable milk and juice, microwaveable meals such as macaroni and cheese and beef stew and more. Food for the program is purchased at wholesale costs and packed by dedicated volunteers. Our drivers deliver the bags to 150 schools up and down the state.

Children appreciate receiving food and the feedback from school personnel who administer the program is positive.

One school official said, “We have some children that get very little food at home.  These backpacks help keep them nourished over the weekend.  Several of these families are homeless and living in hotels and shelters.  Many have younger siblings.”

Another official said, “Our families are so grateful for this program. Many have gone through significant life changes such as a job loss, loss of a home, death, divorce, etc. To have a little extra food has made such a difference.”

Children who participate in the program receive their bag just before the weekend or holiday. School officials discreetly place the bag full of food in the child’s backpack. Meals are easy to prepare at home and require little to no supervision.

For many, the Backpack Program is the only consistency in their lives.

“Some of the students here are homeless, displaced or living in a hotel and don’t know where their next meal is coming from. I remember having a student that would get very excited when he got his bag and asked if he could have two bags. This was something that he looked forward to as this was something that was consistent in his life,” explained one school official.

These adverse childhood experiences that many program participants deal with on a day-to-day basis impacts the overall health of children. The Backpack Program exists to reduce some of these health issues by mitigating negative consequences of under nutrition. The program also aims to remove the barrier of hunger that contributes to poor school performance and empowers school personnel to take direct action to benefit hungry children.

“We are thankful to Food Lion for helping to fund the additional food that is needed to get children through the holiday break,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “No child deserves to feel hunger pangs during the holiday season.”

To learn more about the Backpack Program, please click here.

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