Weekend Backpack Program starts Friday
SPRINGFIELD, Mo.— For one in five Ozarks children, back-to-school means back to no longer worrying about where the next meal is coming from.
Ozarks Food Harvest provides backpacks with child-friendly food for students to take home over the weekends, when they do not have access to free and reduced breakfasts and lunches at school, or evening meals and snacks at after-school feeding programs.
The Food Bank’s Weekend Backpack Program™ begins this Friday, Sept. 2, in 30 area schools, including 13 in Springfield.
Food insecure children are identified by school counselors or principals and given a backpack, provided by The Food Bank, each Friday afternoon to take home over the weekend. The food bag contains two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and snacks. Students return the bags, which look like any other student’s backpack, and volunteers refill them for the following weekend. Volunteers will fill nearly 30,000 backpacks this school year.
Ozarks Food Harvest launched the program in 2003 in Marshfield, Morrisville, Rueter, Theodosia and Thornfield, adding schools to the list each year. All benefiting schools have free and reduced meal rates of 50 percent or greater—some schools are as high as 95 percent.
The Food Bank provided child food bags to three summer school sites in Joplin, following the tornado devastation. After summer school ended, OFH served Emerson Elementary in Joplin.
Individuals can sponsor a backpack for a child in need for $300 annually or $150 per semester. Donations can be made securely online at ozarksfoodharvest.org. Corporate sponsorships are also available.
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About Ozarks Food Harvest—The Food Bank
Ozarks Food Harvest is the Feeding America® food bank for southwest Missouri, serving more than 300 hunger relief organizations across 28 Ozarks counties. The Food Bank reaches 20,000 individuals weekly and distributes one million pounds of food monthly. OFH was named the 2011 Small Business of the Year by the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce. Learn more at ozarksfoodharvest.org and at facebook.com/ozarksfoodharvest.