Nourishing Children With Backpack Buddies

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Food insecurity is a problem that affects all ages. Many of the families that receive food assistance at Second Harvest Community Food Bank include children. The 2014 Hunger in America report issued by Feeding America shows that in the 19-county area served by Second Harvest in Northwest Missouri and Northeast Kansas, there are an estimated 17,000 children that are food insecure. This makes providing ways for nourishing children in our region a priority.

Many of these children come from families just like yours. Their parents or guardians may be experiencing special circumstances that make purchasing groceries difficult, such as temporary unemployment or a medical crisis.

Second Harvest maintains several programs with a primary focus of nourishing children. One of those programs is Backpack Buddies. Many of the children in the communities we serve are enrolled in the free or reduced-price lunch program. While the program helps them receive adequate nutrition during the school day, many children experience long hours of hunger over the weekend.

Backpack Buddies is a supplemental weekend feeding program providing nutritious foods for the purpose of nourishing children. Each weekend during the school year, children enrolled in Backpack Buddies receive a healthy breakfast, a healthy lunch and a healthy snack.

The four rotating menus used during the year allow Second Harvest to provide a variety of nutritious items for children enrolled in the program. For the 2014 school year, there are over 3,200 children from 18 counties and more than 50 separate schools (including Head Start or after-school programs) enrolled in Backpack Buddies.

Backpack Buddies fulfills an important part of Second Harvest’s goal of nourishing children. The Hunger in America report notes that of those receiving food assistance, a full 30 percent are children. Through direct programs like Backpack Buddies and distribution to our Partner Agencies, Second Harvest is working to build hunger-free communities.

There are easy ways for you to get involved with Backpack Buddies. Whether you donate time, money or food to Second Harvest, you are assisting us in providing nutritious foods to children. It takes only $150 to support a child in Backpack Buddies for one full year.

The Backpack Buddies Walkathon

An exciting way to contribute to Backpack Buddies is coming up April 11 at the Backpack Buddies Walkathon, held at Missouri Western University in the Griffon Indoor Sports Complex.

While the requested donation to participate is $5, Second Harvest appreciates larger donations made to help Backpack Buddies. After all, for every $10 donated to the program, Second Harvest can produce 30 meals for children that are experiencing food insecurity.

Registration opens at 9:30 a.m., and then the Walkathon is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Refreshments will be served following the event.

If you would like an opportunity to get involved with Backpack Buddies, the Backpack Buddies Walkathon is a great place to start. Second Harvest also welcomes you to join the effort as a volunteer or through food donations. Please consider joining our effort to fight hunger in the communities we serve.