Putting Education Reform To The Test

A Backpack Keeps Kids — And Their Family — Fed On Weekends


We know that a lot of children depend on schools for their meals through free and reduced-price food programs.

So when school is not in session, these kids may go hungry for much of the day.

It’s a problem big enough that the Florida Department of Agriculture provides a summer food program.  Funds go to schools and parks and recreation programs where children from low-income families can get up to two meals a day.

Community-based food programs serve kids as well, such as the Second Harvest North Florida BackPack program. It focuses on kids in the Jacksonville area who go hungry on the weekends.

Children get backpacks at the end of each school week containing breakfast, lunch and dinner items. The food is ready-to-eat or easy to prepare at home. There’s enough food to feed a family of four for two days or longer during holiday breaks.

The cost per child for a weekly backpack is $100 per year. Daily Billboards and Second Harvest are teaming up to raise funds for the program this month. They hope to provide an additional 2,100 children with food on the weekends during the coming school year.

Daily Billboards will use their signs to ask donors to help Second Harvest achieve its goal.

Donations can be made online, or cell phone users can text FEEDHOPE to 20222 to make a $10 donation.

“Hungry children can’t thrive,” said Bruce Ganger, executive director of Second Harvest North Florida. “If they go home for a weekend and don’t eat, they come to school on Mondays and can’t learn or concentrate on their schoolwork. They have headaches and stomachaches.”

According to Second Harvest, more than 600 children received weekly assistance through the BackPack Program during the 2011-12 school year, and that number will grow to more than 700 in 2012-13.

The additional 2,100 backpacks would be distributed through the Second Harvest Kids Cafe program, which serves children snacks as part of certified after-school programs.


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