WHO WE ARE
Food Backpack for Kids is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization located in Florence, Oregon. We are parents and grandparents from Florence and Mapleton who deeply care and refuse to see any child going through dumpsters for food. Food Backpack for Kids is a Kid-Friendly School-based Program - Because the most essential school supply is food. In Oregon, nearly one in three children struggle with hunger. Households with children experience food insecurity at close to double the rate of households without children. Food insecurity puts children at risk for behaviorial, cognitive and other health-related problems that can affect their well being and long-term development. We believe children should worry about tether ball and academics and not where their next meal is coming from.
WHAT WE DO
The “Food Backpack for Kids” program fills the hunger gap on weekends during the school year. The caring staff at Siuslaw and Mapleton Schools has identified approximately 74 children at risk of weekend hunger and work seamlessly with our program to place food directly in their hands. This partnership protects the child’s dignity and fills their empty stomachs on weekends. All community partners share the same vision and concern..."Together, no child will go hungry".
Volunteers fill weekend food packs and deliver them to the Siuslaw and Mapleton Elementary School Offices. On Fridays the food packs are then distributed privately at the Boys & Girls Club and Twilight After School programs into the backpacks of the children most at risk for weekend hunger. Only the school staff knows their identity. Sending ready to eat food home with the children from school places the food in their hands so they will have three meals on Saturday; and three meals on Sunday. On three-day weekends, the children receive three meals for Monday. Packing volunteers rotate four menus every month to provide nutrition and variety for the children. Each weekend children go home with a backpack filled with shelf staples as well as fresh nutritious food including items such as bread, cheese, oatmeal, tuna, macraroni and cheese, pasta and applesauce. The food is nutritious, easy to open, as well as simple to prepare, to accomodate a variety of home circumstances. Seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables are included as available.
THE DUMPSTER STORY
Here is the true story that started Food Backpack for Kids:
One Monday afternoon in February of 2012, Justin came home from school very distraught and shared why with his foster parent, Joy. One of his friends at school told him he had nothing to eat over the weekend and got so hungry he climbed in a dumpster for food located by a local restaurant!
Joy shared Justin's distressing news the next day at the Cross Road Women's Ministry Board meeting. We were all moms and/or grandmothers sitting around a table making plans for our annual Spring Tea. We just sat there in disbelief...surely this cannot be true! But we could not be sure until we researched more.
A Board member volunteered to go to the Florence Elementary School to ask the Principal if this was a problem he was aware of, or an isolated incident. She found Principal, Mike Harklerode ("Mr. H"), in the school cafeteria keeping order and being accessible to the children. When she asked if she could talk to him for a few minutes, "Mr. H" responded, Sure, if you don't mind noise and interruptions!"
When she shared why she was there, "Mr. H" replied sadly, "I wish it was an isolated incident, but I can think of at least 20 children who face weekend hunger during the school year."
Back to the Women's Ministry Board she went to report the reality many children face each weekend. The women of the church had earned money through fund raisers they planned to use for something to benefit the small community they lived in. For the next nine months they researched, planned, organized and finally gave birth to a program they named "Food Backpack for Kids" and committed to feeding the 20 school children at risk of weekend hunger partnering with the school district.
Stay tuned for the next chapter of this story...
Serving the communities of Florence and Mapleton, Oregon
This program is an equal opportunity provider