The school year for 2017-2018 is almost over leading some students to wonder where they will get food. Throughout the school year local churches and other groups provide at-risk students a bag of food to take home for extra food over the weekend. Due to different circumstances, most communities may not be able to provide the extra food to the students when the school year ends. The Summer Backpack Buddy concept was created to fill the gap.
In 2013, a Six Sigma Project was completed and the Summer Backpack Buddy Program was created. The program empowers communities and provides support to students during the summer. It began with only participating in three Putnam county schools. Today, the program has expanded to all Putnam County Schools and some schools in Boone, Kanawha, and Cabell counties.
Backpack Buddy provides a variety of food to the program participants such as fruit, vegetables, pasta, oatmeal, and cereal bars. Food backpacks will start 2 weeks after the last day of school and will continue bi-weekly until school begins.
The program has found a way to overcome the biggest issue other groups had faced in the past. Due to the rural nature of West Virginia, students had difficulty picking up food during the summer break. Backpacks replaced with boxes and were being filled with self-stable food to be mailed to the students. The summer program ensures the food will reach the students in need by mailing the food to the students.
Students who receive backpacks during the school year are the focus for enrollment in the summer program. These students will automatically receive an enrollment form to be completed and signed by their parent or guardian. Students who do not receive backpacks during the school year but receive Free/Reduced Lunch are encouraged to participate in the summer backpack program. Students who ask for assistance, regardless of their believed economic situation, will not be denied assistance.
In the first five years of the summer program, 14,398 boxes have been mailed to 4,169 students. In the future, Backpack Buddy is hoping to expand their program to provide for more schools and spreading the summer support.
One key aspect of the summer program is community involvement. The Community Packing Day is an event where hundreds of community members come together to pack all of the boxes that are going to be shipped during the summer.
How to get involved:
Join the Backpack Buddy Program as they pack boxes and show support to the community and the future generation. The next Community Packing Day is June 2nd at Teays Valley Church of the Nazarene from 10 a.m. to noon. Another Community Packing Day will be held on June 9 at the Madison Civic Center in Boone county from 10 a.m. to noon.
If you have any questions or want to learn more, please contact Doug Erwin at firstname.lastname@example.org. BackpackBuddy.Org is a registered S0l(c) 3 organization and all contributions are tax deductible. All of the contributions go toward the program.