September 27, 2008

BackSnack Pack

On Thursday night I volunteered with a work group to help pack food bags for Harvesters BackSnack Program in KC.
"Harvesters offers the BackSnack program, which provides backpacks of food to low-income children for the weekend, to combat weekend hunger. The program creates a partnership between Harvesters, a participating school and a local corporate, civic or religious organization."
Last year, Harvesters started with 650 students in the program, by the end of the year that number had grown to over 8,000 children! This weekend is the start of the BackPack program for this school year, with 2,500 students enrolled. On Thursday night we had 28 volunteers, worked for 2 hours and created approximately 1,080 bags full of food to go out to students. I was slightly disappointed in this number, we were working fast and we packed less than half the amount needed for one week!
I was at the beginning of the assembly line, so I didn't see everything that went into the bags... here's what I can remember: chocolate milk, 2% milk (they were packaged so they didn't need to be refrigerated), Campbell's vegetable soup, juice, canned fruit, a granola bar, chocolate pudding, Easy Mac, Dinty Moore canned meal, and even more. I thought they got a great variety of yummy foods! I toured the facility before we got started packing and it was really neat to see all of the storage areas, some for disaster relief (which was low because a shipment had just gone out to Texas), a huge refrigerator and freezer area, "shopping" area for local food pantries, and other BackSnack bags (they rotate 3 different food bags so the kiddos don't get the same thing each week).

Here's some info from Harvesters supporting the program:
Why is Harvesters so committed to this program? Because it makes such a difference. Food does much more than alleviate hunger. Teachers involved with BackSnack report the following:
• 68% see improvements in grades and behavior
• 84% see improvements in attendance
• 71% see improvements in social skills
• 83% see improvements in self-esteem
• 77% see improvements in children’s sense of responsibility

Once I got to work yesterday I immediately signed up for the remaining opening volunteer times... the earliest being in February 2009! I think everyone wants to support this great program.

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