The September 2019 issue of Walter Magazine featured a story about Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and BackPack Buddies and the impact the program has on the improved learning capacity of the children it serves. By removing the trauma of hunger by providing food for the weekend break from school, BackPack Buddies allows children to focus their attention on learning. “’BackPack Buddies is the first line of defense for kids experiencing the stress and trauma of food insecurity,’” says Julie Cox, former Advocacy Manager at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle (IFFS), the organization that started the program in 2006. BackPack Buddies currently serves 2,900 students per week among 80 schools in Wake County. Every Thursday, volunteers deliver bags of food to schools to be distributed before the Friday dismissal bell rings. The goal is to send each student participant home with enough food for the weekend: six meals, including protein, vegetables, fruit, breakfast items and snacks. ‘Healthy food is a right, not a privilege,’ says Cox.”
The magazine piece outlines how several of the existing BackPack Buddies programs came into being and how they all strive to maintain strict confidentiality for the children involved. “Volunteers at the school deliver the bags to classrooms so teachers can discreetly tuck them into elementary schoolers’ backpacks (for middle and high schools, they offer on-site pantries). For many students, confidentiality is key to maintaining a sense of dignity and avoiding stigma.”
BackPack Buddies has a proven track record in its impact as a dependable source of food security for the children and families it serves. But as Food Shuttle Child Hunger Program Manager Amber Simmons points out, the program does far more than provide the children with weekend meals, “BackPack Buddies is more than just a source of food—it’s a symbol of hope, relief and happiness.” No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot to pack into one little bag each week.
A link to the full article can be found here.
If you are interested in volunteering with the BackPack Buddies program, please click here.
Additionally, information on holding a Healthy Food Drive is available here.