Backpack Program

I’m thankful for the food that you give us because I have barely enough food to eat at my house. Erica, age 8

Food bags provide nutritious meals for children over the weekends, when they might otherwise go hungry

The Food Bank’s Weekend Backpack Program provides food insecure children with a bag of child-friendly food items to take home every Friday of the entire school year. Nearly 1,600 children in over 50 schools in Springfield and across the Ozarks benefit from this innovative, life-saving program that began in 2003.

  • 56K

    Food Bags

    Provided annually

  • 52


    Partner with OFH for distribution

  • 15


    Benefit from the Backpack Program

How does it work?

Every Friday, Backpack Program participants receive food bags

These bags contain six nutritious, balanced, easy-open meals. The students are selected by teachers and counselors who interact with the children on a daily basis. Ozarks Food Harvest prefers monetary donations for the anonymous program, because The Food Bank must purchase specific items at a bulk, discounted rate. Administrators report improved comprehension, attendance, self-esteem, health and grades. Watch the spotlight on this program to learn more.


Feeding hope one backpack at a time

Bags include meals for two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and two snacks, plus beverages and hygiene items. Examples of items offered include rice with chicken and vegetables, soup, green beans, corn, peaches, sunflower seed spread, cereal, fat-free white and chocolate milk and 100% fruit juice. Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and soap are also included. All of the food bags and hygiene kits are assembled by volunteers at OFH and delivered to schools, in bulk, by Food Bank drivers.

Volunteer to pack bags

Contents 2015

Backpacks 1

Benefiting Springfield schools

Bingham, Bissett, Bowerman, Boyd, Campbell, Cowden, Delaware, Fremont, Holland, Horace Mann, Jeffries, McGregor, Pershing, Pipkin, Pittman, Portland, Robberson, Sherwood, Shining Stars, Sunshine, Truman, Watkins, Weaver, Weller, Westport, Williams and York.

Outlying schools

Bakersfield, Bronaugh, Central Park (Monett), Columbian (Carthage), Exeter, Fair Play, Fairview (Carthage), Hollister, Hubble (Marshfield), Humansville, Hurley, Irving (Joplin), Lutie (Theodosia), Mallory (Buffalo), Marion C. Early (Morrisville), Monett, Mount Vernon, Northeast Vernon County (Schell City), Plainview (Ava), Richards (West Plains), Roscoe (Oscelola), Sheldon, Skyline (Norwood), Thornfield and Winona.

The Backpack Program is the fastest growing program at OFH

Children experiencing hunger have difficulty concentrating, are often sick, socially withdrawn or rebellious and less likely to excel academically. Ozarks Food Harvest was one of the first food banks in the country to establish a Backpack Program, which is now offered at nearly every Feeding America food bank in the country. Beginning with just one Ozarks school in 2003, OFH works to expand its program each year.

Schools must have at least a 50 percent free/reduced rate before being considered by Food Bank staff to benefit from the Weekend Backpack Program. It costs approximately $10,000 per school per year, so funds are first raised for existing partner schools. Schools are selected during the spring prior to the school year, as all food is ordered and purchased in advance. To learn more, contact Mary Zumwalt at (417) 865-3411.



Backpacks 2

Hungerthon 2

Annual radio-thon turns 17 in 2015

Since 1999, Kevin and Liz on iHeartRadio’s 105.9 KGBX, formerly on Alice 95.5, have hosted Hungerthon, a radio-thon fundraiser for Ozarks Food Harvest’s Weekend Backpack Program. In 2015, during Hunger Action Month, Hungerthon raised $125,380 to support 416 children with food to take home over the weekends. You can help sponsor a child during the school year by donating online now and designating your gift to the Weekend Backpack Program. You can also call Ozarks Food Harvest with your donation at (417) 865-3411.

A one-year sponsorship is $300 or $25 a month, and one school semester sponsorship is $150 or $12.50 a month.