The BackPack Program is an undertaking of the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan which attempts to reduce child hunger, educate students and families on proper nutrition and promote healthy lifestyles.
Designed to provide extra support on weekends for children who receive free or reduced-priced lunches at school, this program provides a backpack full of nutritious and easy-to-prepare foods for children to take home on the weekends when school meals are not available. For many of these children, this backpack is their only source of food when school is not in session. The program began in 2004 with 50 backpacks in 2 elementary schools. Currently, this program serves nearly 7,000 children in more than 207 schools throughout 22 counties in northeast Michigan.
Volunteers and site personnel are essential in order to have a successful Backpack Program. Helpers will be involved in each of the following steps.
- Receiving the food delivery.
- Breaking down cases into individual units.
- Distributing the food into the backpacks according to the site instructions.
- Distributing the backpacks to the children.
- Collecting backpacks the following week for another cycle.
Depending on the site and funding source, here’s what the Food Bank considers when selecting Backpack products;
- Single serving
- Individually wrapped
- Shelf stable
- Kid friendly
- Easy to prepare
Each Backpack contains food products from the following groups; Fresh Fruits and/or Vegetables, Dairy, Grain, and a source of Protein.
No. We depend entirely upon the community and some grant monies to run the programs. Typically grants are used to get a program off the ground until support can be found to sustain the particular school.
Free and reduced school lunch programs do not apply. The Federal funded reduced or free lunch programs provide meals while these children are in school. The Back Pack Program steps in to assist these same kids over the weekends when school is not in session.