The Virginia Peninsula Foodbank's Backpack Program ensures children at risk of hunger have a food source during the weekends or extended holidays. Each Friday more than 1,300 students at 24 schools in the community take home backpacks filled with complete, nutritious meal. Each year backpacks are donated by community organizations or businesses. Weekly during the school year, a healthy, nutritious meal is planned, volunteers pack the bags with food, and the backpacks are delivered to the schools for children to take home on Friday. The program was started in 2003 and continues to grow each year because of increased need. School Pantries are located on the grounds of schools and are intended to provide a more readily accessible source of food assistance to low-income students and their families.
Why:To give participants backpacks filled with a complete, nutritious meal. To offer participating Title 1 schools and children important educational resources to assist them in forming healthy eating habits through our Nutrition Self-Sufficiency Department.
Who:The children targeted for this program attend Title 1 Elementary schools and live in Section 8 housing, an Enterprise zone, or other low-income neighborhoods in the urban centers of our cities in the Peninsula area.
Where:Our Food for Kids BackPack Program is operated through partnerships with 30 Title 1 elementary schools, which have over 50% of students receiving free or reduced price federal school meals. Weekly, we provide nutritious bags of food. The backpacks are filled and distributed each week with the assistance of various volunteers at the Foodbank. Presently we serve 1,300 children to eat over the weekends when school breakfasts and lunches are unavailable, amounting to 40,430 backpacks, equating to 230,794 lbs of food.
Locations:There are 30 Backpack Sites that the Foodbank of the Virginia Peninsula is proud to serve. Those locations are:
Captain Smith Elementary
Cary Elementary School Pantry
Newport NewsAn Achievable Dream
Newsome Park Elementary
James River Elementary
Matthew Whaley Elementary
Rawls Byrd Elementary
York County Head Start
Most Needed Items:
Easy Macaroni Meals
Pork 'n' Beans
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Dinty Moore Stews
Assorted Fruit Cups
To break the cycle of hunger and food insecurity for children in low-income communities by providing nutritious healthy foods that are easily portable and can be easily consumed at their homes over weekends or during extended holidays throughout the school year when other resources are not available.
The Backpack Program begins the first week of September and concludes the last week of May. Each Monday menus are planned while program volunteers fill the backpacks from Monday to Thursday for distribution to participating Title 1 schools by Friday of each week.
• Promoting the health of children and giving them a better understanding of the benefits of healthy eating and the importance of a proper diet.
• To maintain the capability to access and distribute nutritious food commodities, either by donated sources or purchased.
• To continue to expand to meet the growing number of children at risk.
• Distribute food discreetly in easily accessible and safe environments.