Millions of children in America rely on free or reduced-priced school breakfast and lunch to meet the majority of their nutritional needs. During the summer, when schools are closed, many struggle to find adequate nourishment.
Feeding America's Summer Food Program attempts to meet the needs of these children through community-based meal programs and food banks. About 70 of the food banks in Feeding America's nationwide network participate, reaching about 300,000 youngsters. But that's a tiny fraction of the number in need.
“While many children look forward to summer as a time for vacation, there are millions of children who will be going hungry this summer," said Kathryn Pfefferle, Child Hunger Programs Coordinator for Feeding America. "Over 20 million students access the National School Lunch Program during the school year, yet less than 3 million children are accessing summer food programs. Within the Feeding America network of food banks, the BackPack program is increasingly becoming a successful method for bringing kid-friendly food to children in hard-to-reach areas.”
The BackPack Program concept was developed at the Arkansas Rice Depot, after a school nurse sought help because she saw hungry students complaining of stomachaches and dizziness. The local food bank began to provide the youngsters with groceries in plain backpacks to carry home.
In addition to providing nourishing food to disadvantaged children, some BackPack Programs provide extra food for siblings at home.
SAGE is proud to support Feeding America's BackPack Program. To learn more about Feeding America, or to make a donation, visit the Feeding America website.