Funding needed for Ozarks Food Harvest’s Weekend Backpack Program
The program provides weekend meals for at-risk children in 61 southwest Missouri schools each week
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— Each year, Ozarks Food Harvest provides more than 58,000 bags of weekend meals for more than 1,600 children in southwest Missouri. Due to changes in the supply chain related to COVID-19, prices of food that go in each bag have increased significantly. The Food Bank is asking for monetary donations to ensure that children who participate in the program can continue to get the weekend meals they need for the rest of the school year.
The Weekend Backpack Program provides food-insecure children with an assortment of child-friendly food items to take home every Friday of the entire school year. Each food bag contains two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and two snacks, along with beverages. All of the food items are easy to open, ready to eat and follow strict nutritional guidelines for health. Teachers and counselors who interact with the children on a daily basis select students who receive the bags.
“Now more than ever, in the midst of a global pandemic, we must focus on the health and safety of our students, including meeting the needs of students who are food insecure,” said Jean Grabeel, director of health services for Springfield Public Schools. “Ozarks Food Harvest is a valued partner providing support to help meet those food needs through the Weekend Backpack Program.”
The Food Bank accepts monetary donations to purchase meals and snacks in bulk for the program. A donation of $360 or $30/month will help provide weekend meals for one child for an entire school year.
“We have to make sure that these kids have food for the weekends this school year,” said Bart Brown, president/CEO of Ozarks Food Harvest. “About 1 in 5 children in southwest Missouri are food insecure, and because we’re not exactly sure what the upcoming school year will look like and the food is more expensive, generous support from the community is more important than ever. Whether they’re learning at home or online, it’s imperative that children are able to focus on school instead of hunger.”
Last year, Ozarks Food Harvest distributed more than 350,000 meals to food-insecure children through its Weekend Backpack Program. More information about the program is available at ozarksfoodharvest.org/programs/backpack and donations can be made at ozarksfoodharvest.org/donate.
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About Ozarks Food Harvest — The Food Bank
Ozarks Food Harvest is the Feeding America food bank for southwest Missouri, providing food to 270 organizations across 28 Ozarks counties serving 261,000 unduplicated individuals. The Food Bank provides more than 22 million meals annually. Learn more at ozarksfoodharvest.org, facebook.com/ozarksfoodharvest or twitter.com/ozksfoodharvest.