According to Hunger in America: A Report on Emergency Food Distribution in the United States in 2010, more than 37 million Americans – including nearly 14 million children and 3 million seniors – receive emergency food assistance each year from the Feeding America Network. Hunger in America. Another hunger study conducted in 2010 lists the following Texas State highlights:
The population in Texas in 2008: 24,326,974
Children under the age of 18 living below the poverty level: 5,619,531 (23.1%)
27.6% of the members of households in Texas are children under the age of 18.
67% of these households have children participating in the federal school lunch and school breakfast program.
Among households with children, 22.3% are food insecure and 5.7% are experiencing hunger.
33% of the clients served by the Texas Food Bank Network are children.
The BackPack Program is designed to meet the needs of hungry children at times when free or reduced-priced school lunches are not available, such as weekends and school vacations. The program provides backpacks filled with food that children take home on weekends. The food is child-friendly, nonperishable, easily consumed and vitamin fortified. Backpacks are discreetly distributed to children on the last day before the weekend or holiday vacation.
The BackPack Program concept was developed at the Arkansas Rice Depot in Little Rock after a school nurse asked for help because hungry students were coming to her with stomach aches and dizziness. The local food bank began to provide the school children with groceries in non-descript backpacks to carry home.
Reports on the BackPack Program indicate that there are more than 145 Feeding America Network Members operating BackPack Programs in 44 states and Washington, D.C. Nationally, Network Members distribute as many as 50,000 backpacks each week. This program is the fastest growing national program within our Network.
How Does It Work?
The Food Bank works with school principals, administrators, staff and parent liaisons to identify children at risk of food insecurity.
A Food Bank driver delivers food to participating schools or schools pick up food.
Volunteers meet at the Food Bank or school to assemble sacks of kid-friendly, balanced food such as cereal, shelf-stable milk, beans and franks, and canned fruit.
The school staff and/or volunteers/parent liaisons distribute backpacks full of food to the neediest students on Fridays.
What Is The Need?
Children selected to participate in the BackPack Program are living in food insecure environments and may not get a nutritious meal on the weekends.
Recent studies have shown that a lack of sufficient food during childhood, even on a relatively mild basis, is far more serious than previously thought.
Undernutrition, along with environmental factors associated with poverty, can permanently damage physical growth, brain development, and cognitive functioning.
The longer a child’s nutritional, emotional and educational needs go unmet, the greater the likelihood of cognitive impairments.
What Are The Benefits?
Supplemental feeding programs can help to offset threats posed to the child’s capacity to learn and perform in school which result from inadequate nutrient intake.
Once undernutrition occurs, its long-term effects may be reduced or eliminated by a combination of adequate food intake and environmental (home & school) support.
What Are The Results?
Overall attendance is significantly improved
Attention spans are enhanced
Behavioral problems are reduced
Grades are improved
For additional information contact: Frances Santellana (361) 578-0591