One in five Montana children is currently at risk of food insecurity, unsure of where their next meal will come from. Programs such as Free and Reduced Price School Meals help ensure that at-risk children receive food during the school day, but what about when school is out?
The program provides bags filled with food that is child-friendly, non-perishable, and easily prepared. BackPack bags are discreetly distributed to children on the last day before the weekend or holiday vacation.
The BackPack Program’s purpose is to improve students’ school performance by providing them with the nutritious food necessary for them to concentrate on their studies, rather than the effects of chronic hunger. In 1995, the program was piloted in Little Rock, AR as the result of a school nurse noticing the effects of hunger in some students. In 2006, BackPack became an official program of Feeding America, the national hunger-fighting organization.
In 2007, Montana Food Bank Network approached DeSmet School in Missoula with the BackPack program. The school administration recognized the value of the program and presented it to the student body. The school decided to roll out Montana’s first BackPack program in January, 2008. Since that time, enthusiasm for the program has spread throughout the state and MFBN currently provides BackPack meals at 63 sites in 19 communities throughout Montana.
For more information on the BackPack Program, or if you are interested in starting the program in your school, please click here. If you are interested in sponsoring a BackPack Program please click here to donate. Or check out our new brochure for sponsoring a BackPack Program:
MFBN BackPack Program PSA