Initiated in January 2011, the Backpack Program is designed to meet the needs of hungry children at times when other resources are not available, such as on the weekends or during school vacations.
The Backpack Program started in Piscataquis County, where at-risk children (grades K-2) were arriving at school on Mondays after a weekend of little or no food. These young learners were unable to focus on anything that was being taught because of the overpowering distraction of an empty stomach. Until lunch time, there was little-to-nothing that these children were getting to eat since the previous Friday.
This was happening week after week, and the affected children were falling behind in their learning, not to mention the cascade of effects that follow the problem of food insecurity and hunger.
So we did something about it.
United Way of Eastern Maine, along with the help of our partners and local business sponsors, developed the Backpack Program. Volunteers came together to provide backpacks filled with nutritious, easy-to-prepare foods that the children take home with them every Friday afternoon. The backpacks contain six meals' worth of nutritious food these children can prepare themselves to keep fed until Monday.
The Backpack Program's launch proved to be an enormous success and highly sustainable. It was such a success, in fact, that it expanded into RSU 64 this past October (read the news article here) and we have received several requests for more information from other school districts right here in Eastern Maine.
For more information about the Backpack Program, feel free to call us at (207)941-2800 or contact Shirar Patterson.
Did you know?
United Way partners with the Creating Assets, $avings and Hope (CA$H) coalition to provide free tax assistance and financial resources to individuals in Eastern Maine. More than 2,800 low and moderate income individuals have received free tax preparation and financial resource support. The work of the coalition has brought more than $2 million in refund monies to Eastern Maine. Read more.
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