BackPack Buddies provides children from food-insecure homes with healthy weekend meals during the school year. The children, selected by school principals, guidance counselors, and supervisors of various after school programs, receive a backpack containing six balanced meals and two healthy snacks at the end of every week.Local corporations, civic groups, and individuals help collect and pack bags with kid-friendly non-perishable food.
Fast Facts about BackPack Buddies
- Nearly 116,000 children (43%) in our service area applied for free or reduced price meals during the 2012-2013 school year.1
- 1 in 4 children are at risk of hunger in North Carolina2
- 1,850 children were served 68,450 BackPacks at 55 sites in 7 counties during the 2013-14 school year
Meeting the Need When the Cupboards Are Bare
“Toward the end of the year last year, the day before we delivered backpacks, a third-grade student mentioned to her teacher that she was hungry because she and her brother and her mother had to share one apple for breakfast that morning, and they were hungry – they were out of food. And the next day I delivered that bag of food to her classroom, and the teacher said that child lit up like a Christmas tree, she was so excited to see that food. That tells you that you’re making a difference right there.”
- BackPack Buddies Coordinator
My mom is working but when she gets her check she doesn’t have enough money to buy enough food for all of us. I live with my Mom, Dad, and four brothers and sisters…There have been times when there wasn’t any food or enough food. Then, we ask a lady for some food, and she gives us some. Some nights we don’t have food – I eat breakfast and lunch at school, and that’s it. Most nights we don’t eat dinner, or only some people eat because there’s not enough for everybody.”
- BackPack Buddies child recipient
“When asking a 1st grade student what type of food he ate on the weekend, he replied ‘oh… we don’t eat on the weekend.’ When I asked him if he would like to be a ‘BackPack Buddy’ and explained the program to him, he started jumping up and down with an excited look on his face and exclaimed ‘YES, YES, YES!”
- BackPack Buddies Coordinator
“I’ve been getting a backpack since half of last year and this year…When I get home with my backpack, I unload it, put the food away, eat a granola bar, drink two juice boxes, and eat the apple…I feel good about getting a BackPack. Since my Mother was fired, we don’t have a lot of money, so that’s pretty much what I eat all weekend. During the rest of the week, I cook up some noodles that I’ve saved from the bag. If I didn’t get a backpack, I would go without eating or eat a can of vegetables. I have gone a day without eating before.”
-BackPack Buddies child recipient
Sponsorship and Partnership
It would be impossible for BackPack Buddies to have such an impact without help from numerous individual and groups.
Your corporation, church, or civic group can become a sponsor or partner for BackPack Buddies! Help provide the funds and/or food for a site and help pack and deliver the BackPacks to children at one of the schools we serve.
Sponsors, like BlueCross BlueShield of NC, provide us with the funds to ensure kids come to school nourished and ready to learn.
Partners, like Farragut, help us out by purchasing food for BackPacks, packing, and delivering them to our partner schools!
Contact Kyle@FoodShuttle.org for more information.
Hold a Food Drive for BackPack Buddies
We always need items to send home with hungry children over the weekend. Donating canned proteins (such as tuna & chicken) is particularly helpful because we routinely purchase those items to make sure the backpacks are nutritionally balanced. Every can you donate is one less we have to purchase! See a complete list of the items needed here.
Find more information on how to hold a healthy food drive here.
Want a new idea for celebrating your child’s birthday? Invite the kids to bring BackPack Buddies food items. Let us know when you drop off the food and we’ll send your child a special thank you card.
PORCH-Durham’s mission is to support the BackPack Buddies Program in Durham, North Carolina. Families buy a few extra items at the grocery store, and every 3rd Monday of the month they put them in bags on their porches. Then PORCH-Durham volunteers come to pick them up, and the food goes to support Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s BackPack Buddies program. Thanks to their ongoing support, we have been able to add 4 new schools to the BackPack Buddies Program, supply our 5 school pantries, AND supply a pantry at the Durham Teen Center!
MIX 101.5 BackPack Buddies Food Drive
The 2014 WRAL-FM MIX 101.5 BackPack Buddies Drive raised 7,904 lbs of food and $65,000! A huge thanks to every individual and group that made it possible. It’s never too late to give! Click here to donate online, and click here for a list of healthy food items you can donate.