Child Hunger: Feeding America’s Backpack Program

When people grow up, they look back and glorify the experience of childhood. We think, “Life was carefree and fun when I was a kid. I wish I appreciated it more.” But the truth is that when you are a kid, you are at the whims and mercy of adults. That’s why kids want to grow up so desperately; they want to be in control for once.

Living in the USA, it can be hard to believe that children live with hunger when many images of kids in our communities and on TV are smiling and healthy. How could families be struggling? I see so many people eating out — how could there be a recession? But yet poverty exists in both urban and rural communities. There is no face on the problem of child hunger, but:

  • More than 16 million children live in food insecure households (here’s a reminder of what food insecurity means) in 2010.
  • Research indicates that hungry children do poorly in school and have lower academic achievement because they are not well prepared for school and cannot concentrate.
  • Only 2.3 million of the more than 20 million low-income children who receive free and reduced school lunch participate in Summer Food Service Programs.

Feeding America contacted me to inform me about their backpack program — Pack ’til They’re Back! — and sent me a backpack for me check out and to pass on to one of my students. Feeding America’s BackPack program sends nutrition food home with children over the weekend and during school vacations. The program is operated through member food banks.

My son was very interested in the backpack, but he already has his own. The one in the picture will go one of my students or another child at my school that doesn’t have a backpack. I love that kids can get food in a discrete way and a physical backpack for use at school as many of them don’t have ready access to either.

How can you get involved?

1) Raise awareness of child hunger and the BackPack Program in your community — it is nationwide, just like hunger.

2) Donating and volunteering at your local food bank (find one in your area using the locator)

3) Donating to Feeding America

4) Start a food drive in your community and donate it to a local food bank

5) Get more information online (including videos you can share).

Give a kid the gift of food

Stay tuned…I will be volunteering at a food bank in December and blogging about my experience! I’m looking forward to giving back.

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5 Responses to Child Hunger: Feeding America’s Backpack Program

  1. Ryan Young (Feeding America) November 29, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    Thank you for featuring Feeding America’s BackPack program in your post! We appreciate your support in the fight to end child hungry!

    – Ryan Young (http://feedingamerica.org)

  2. Mallory November 29, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    I don’t know that I would call a backpack with the words “Feeding America” embroidered on it “discreet.” Otherwise, I think it’s a great idea.

  3. polymathamy November 29, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    Mallory- I believe the backpack in Mrs. Q’s pictures is for promotional purposes. Backpacks sent with children don’t have the logo on it. Our local feeding program asks for donated backpacks, so they could be anything. Random backpacks blend in and are discreet.

  4. Coolernearlake November 29, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    Actually, this program bothers me for a number of reasons. I absolutely don’t doubt that there are children who get their best meals in school and suffer hunger on the weekends. But maybe the real question here is why our existing programs–things like Food Share and WIC, and also food pantries–aren’t reaching these homes.

    Is the school really the best way to distribute food? Schools have some food storage capabilty, yes, but not the kind of bulk storage and cold storage that this would require. Should schools be liable for food safety for a program like this? And to get down to details…what happens if school is called off for bad weather on a food distribution day?

    I think that this program also puts an unfair burden on small children. Why should a seven year old be responsible for the family’s weekend meals? That’s an awful lot to ask of a little kid.

  5. kai-ari lundell December 2, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    An interesting article…

    I heard about your blog from my friend. I linked your article in to my blog article.

    I’m a finnish teacher and I have a blog of my own, http://www.properuskoulu.net. It’s a general school blog and I write about school lunhes, too.

    I have taken some pics with my phone, “instant pics”…not so good pics as your’s….

    In Finland school lunches are free to every child.

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