Food for this program is purchased so the Food Bank’s Child Nutrition team can carefully plan nutritionally balanced and kid-friendly meals, with an emphasis on fresh produce.
Schools are selected based on the percentage of the student population who qualifies for free and reduced priced meals. Between 82 percent and 95 percent of student populations of BackPack schools qualify for these meal programs. Schools are also selected based on their participation in the Network for Healthy California, a public health initiative that empowers low-income families to adopt healthy lifestyle practices that reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
In 2018, our BackPack Program distributed 39,321 backpacks containing 486,742 pounds of food to 1,258 children at 9 elementary schools in Los Angeles and Compton Unified School Districts. The each backpack contained enough food for at least six nutritious meals to ensure that each child did not go hungry over the weekend.
Backpacks contain the following nutritious foods on a rotating menu: low-fat milk, 100% juice, oatmeal, peanut butter, whole grain pasta, spaghetti sauce, pancake mix, macaroni and cheese, brown rice, vegetable beef soup, black beans and chunk chicken or tuna. Fresh produce and bread is packaged separately the day before distribution and included in the backpacks. Nutrition education and handouts for the children and their families are important components of the program as they stress the importance of maintaining a balanced diet while facing food insecurity.