The BackPack Program / Weekend Survival Kit is intended to meet the nutritional needs of children during non-school hours, specifically on weekends. It targets children who receive reduced price breakfast or lunch at school. While it seems unlikely that children in a county like Ingham would go to bed hungry on weekends, in reality, many children deal with hunger. Ultimately this program aims to keep students from going hungry on the weekends and remove barriers to academic success.
According to National Poverty Center, almost one in four children live in poverty. When children have enough healthy food to eat, they are absent from school less, their tests scores improve, their behavior improves, and they are far healthier overall.
The contents of the Back Packs vary from month to month. The food needs to be kid-friendly, nutritious, easy to prepare, and individually portioned.
Some examples of commonly included items are:
- Boxes of macaroni & cheese
- Individual apple sauce
- Jar of peanut butter
- Canned vegetables
- Pasta with protein
- 100% juice boxes
- Oatmeal packets
- Pudding cups
- Fruit snacks
The kits are put together, assembly-line style, by volunteer groups from the community. They generally contain two breakfasts, two lunches, three dinners and two snacks.
Food is placed in a 2 gallon ziplock bag then placed in a swag bag, which is then put inside the backpacks at the actual distribution site. Volunteers deliver the food to the schools two Fridays a month.
The Back Packs are assembled by volunteers, transported by volunteers, stored by volunteers, delivered by volunteers, and funded by volunteers. After packing the BackPacks will look very similar to these pictures: