Poverty levels are on the rise due to current economic weakness and too many Idahoan children go hungry over weekends. Many families rely on school meals provided by the Free and Reduced Lunch Program to feed their children, but these meals are not available on weekends.
Teachers throughout Idaho share stories of children coming to school hungry after a weekend. Studies show that food-deprived children are more likely to become sick, have a decreased attention span and lack enthusiasm to learn because they are concentrating on hunger more than learning.
The Backpack Program provides crucial nutrition throughout the school year to ensure that children return each Monday nourished and ready to learn.
The Backpack Program began when an inner-city school nurse asked for help. Each Monday morning the same students came to her with stomach aches and dizziness; she realized that they had not eaten since their free school lunch the Friday before. School officials responded by sending home food on Fridays but made the mistake of putting the groceries in paper bags which made children feel singled out. When the weekend meals were placed into backpacks, children felt more comfortable and their nourishment was ensured.
The Idaho Foodbank (IFB) works in partnership with school officials to identify chronically hungry children who can benefit from the Backpack Program.
With parental permission backpacks are distributed discreetly to participating children on Fridays or the last day of the school week. The weekend backpack weighs about six pounds and includes two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners, and two snacks that are nutritious, nonperishable, child-friendly, and easy to prepare.
The meals provided by The Backpack Program are carefully analyzed by an Idaho Foodbank Nutritionist in an effort to provide balanced nutrition and encourage healthy eating habits. All of the food included is purchased by The Idaho Foodbank using generously donated funds and is carefully selected for its nutritional value and child-friendliness.
Each backpack includes enough healthy food for an elementary school-age child to enjoy:
All of which are specifically planned out by a trained nutritionist to ensure that the proper nutrients are received. The food is kid-friendly, easy to prepare and the entire pack weighs less than 6 pounds. Each pack costs just $6.20.
The cost to sponsor one child for a full month is $24.80 and the cost to sponsor one child for a full school year is only $229.40. That is less than a third of what the average American family spends on soda a year.
Please help us make sure that thousands of children in Idaho go home with a full backpack of food to enjoy over the weekend, and return to the classroom ready to learn.
The Idaho Foodbank is an independent 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization
comprised of a partner network of more than 200 hunger relief agencies
throughout the state of Idaho.