Begun in 2006, the BackPack Program is the only program in Los Angeles County that serves the needs of hungry children over the weekend.
The children served by the BackPack Program all reside in low-income neighborhoods, and the vast majority of students attending our partner schools are eligible for free meals during the week through the National School Lunch Program. After Friday, federal breakfast, lunch and snack programs are not operational, and many low-income families struggle to provide the nutritious foods children need during the weekend. The BackPack Program is specifically designed to address this gap in services. The BackPack Program represents a partnership between the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Compton Unified School District and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). The schools participating in the program were selected based upon the number of children attending who qualify for a free lunch. Within those schools, the Food Bank specifically targets children whose health and physical growth would be most adversely affected by poor nutrition based on recommendations from teachers, administrators and school nurses. Each Friday, backpacks containing enough nutritious food for six meals are given to children enrolled in the program. The BackPack Program is provided to children at participating schools, free of charge, thanks to funding from individuals and grants from organizations including The Marcled Foundation and The Annenberg Foundation. From a modest beginning, the BackPack Program has expanded and now serves 825 children at seven schools during the school year, reaching a distribution rate of 39,600 backpacks. However, there are many more children that still need our help.
The Food Bank is currently working on a variety of fundraising initiatives that will allow for the continued expansion of this much needed program. Through the provision of healthy food to low-income children, we can make a substantial impact on the overall health of families in our community.