Backpack Program critical to sustain kids over weekends

Backpack Program critical to sustain kids over weekends

July 16, 2015 in Harvest Time Newsletter

For children in the Ozarks who are hungry, every day brings a new struggle.

Concentrating in school, finishing homework in the evenings and even playing outside with friends is not easy or fun with an empty stomach. The only meals thousands of these children can count on are breakfast and lunch at school.

When classes are dismissed on Friday afternoon, the weekend can seem awfully long to a child who doesn’t know where his or her meals will come from.

Ten-year-old Lillian from Springfield shared, “When I don’t eat enough dinner, I can’t sleep because I’m so hungry.”

Fortunately, there’s hope for these children. Ozarks Food Harvest’s Weekend Backpack Program provides area kids with food bags to take home over the weekend when they might otherwise go hungry. Nearly 1,600 kids in 50 elementary schools will benefit from the program in the coming school year.

Through the program, which began in 2003, The Food Bank has distributed over 1.8 million meals to children in the Ozarks.

“We know that children don’t eat at home. If it wasn’t for Ozarks Food Harvest’s Backpack Program, we would have thousands of children who would be going home and be hungry over the weekend and not fed,” said Jean Grabeel, Health Services Coordinator for Springfield Public Schools. “It is the most awesome feeling to be able to see the look on a child’s face when we give them some food. Just to think that a box of cereal makes a difference for a child, and it’s so small. We are so grateful to people who donate to Ozarks Food Harvest to help make a significant impact in the health and well-being of children.”

The Weekend Backpack Program’s success relies on donor support.

To maintain nutritious quality, The Food Bank purchases the food for the bags rather than depending on donations. That’s why sponsorships from generous individuals and organizations are so crucial.

And the children that receive the food bags are so grateful that someone cares about their struggle.

“Thank you so much for the food you donate,” Jadah, a student at York Elementary School said. “Because my mom doesn’t always have money for food, this helps us so much. Thank you!”

Support from donors can make every day less of a struggle for these kids. You can help ensure a child in the Ozarks has food every weekend during the school year by giving $300 online.