One mention of the Food Bank of Delaware’s backpacks brings smiles to the faces of five students at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School in Milford.
Keniah and Sarah, both third graders; Allison, fourth grade, and twins Tamara and Darius, second-grade students, agree they look forward to receiving the weekend meals.
Sarah says she loves the macaroni and cheese, while Keniah’s favorite foods are the cereal and tuna fish.
At this school, 105 children out of the school’s 556 students receive a bag full of food through the Backpack Program.
“More are eligible,” said Maria Griffin, a counselor who coordinates the program for the school.
The students say they also share their food with younger brothers and sisters too.
Backpacks go to children who are identified as at risk for hunger over the weekends or school holiday when federal school meal programs are not available. They are packed with a variety of kid-friendly, nutritious and easy to prepare foods, food including shelf-stable milk and juice, meals such as macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs and beef stew, apple sauce, cereal and more.
“It’s done with secrecy, privacy. I pick out a place, and they come between 1 and 2 p.m. with their school packs. The teachers are e-mailed, and this is when the other kids are in class. It’s not out in the open,” Griffin said.
“Then they put the packs back in their locker.”
Griffin notes that the in addition to participating in the Backpack Program, the students also give back to their community by collecting donations for a school food drive. The most recent effort yielded 270 pounds of food.
In addition to schools, the backpacks are distributed through community centers, childcare centers, Kids Café sites, and more. Close to 5,000 children state-wide participate each week.
To learn more about the Backpack Program, please contact Greg Coumatos, Children’s Nutrition Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or (302) 292-1305 ext 242.
It costs approximately $158 to provide one child with weekend and holiday food for a whole school year. This includes the cost of the backpack, food for each week, supplies, transportation and program administration. To sponsor a child, call Larry Haas, Development Director, at (302) 294-0185 or email him at email@example.com.