Backpack Buddies is a program that feeds school children who are food insecure. We work with Four Corners Elementary School where 90% of the children qualify for the “Free and Reduced” lunch program. For some of these little ones that’s the only meal they will eat that day. Then on weekends, they go home to little or no food. To eliminate their hunger, Backpack Buddies provides each child in the program with a free bag of food to eat on the weekends. The contents include a can of soup, can of chili or pasta w/meat, a fruit cup, granola bars, raw carrots, cheese stick, yogurt, juice box, fruit snacks, and Gold Fish crackers. The teachers and school personnel choose the neediest ones and once enrolled that child receives our weekend food during the entire school year. We feed 50 children every weekend. Teachers report there is less truancy on Backpack Buddies distribution days.
We do this because research shows that hungry children have poorer mental and physical health, suffer with more behavioral disorders and are less prepared to learn when they are in school. Hunger is an increasing epidemic in our area and most residents are unaware. Backpack Buddies is essential to help relieve hunger, which in turn will improve grades, health, school attendance and self-esteem in these children.
We have no overhead as the Backpack Buddies program is administered through our church, Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran in Salem, Oregon. Church volunteers fill the individual bags of food and deliver them to the school. Every dollar we raise buys food that goes directly to the children.
You can help!
Anne Clemens & Laura Drager
Co-Coordinators, Backpack Buddies Program
Our response to Covid-19: During the COVID-19 crisis, our team has innovated and created a mini-program “Because You Matter” to help our community and families at Four Corners. We bought and distributed grocery gift cards to them. This program was initially planned to last for three months but with help from several resources in addition to Backpack Buddies, it lasted for seven months, ending with the November distribution. Currently we are working with the school to continue the program, but the logistics of distribution have to be worked out.