Backpacks help fill the hunger gap

BP at campus communityBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator 

It might be difficult to find a kid that’s more enthusiastic about the Food Bank of Delaware’s backpack program than Danny, a 5th grade student at Campus Community School in Dover.

OK, he’s quick to admit he’s not wild about the oatmeal because it’s “just the original,” but the rest of the contents keep him going over the weekend, and he appreciates that.

Danny is one of more than 5,000 students statewide who receive a bag of non-perishable food each Friday. The food distribution is known as the Backpack Program even though it’s packaged at the Food Bank in clear plastic bags.

When the food is distributed through 137 sites statewide, it’s discreetly placed in the children’s backpacks to take home.

Campus Community School, a charter school in Dover, serves about 398 students in kindergarten through 8th grade, and more than 50 percent of them qualify for free or reduced school lunches.

Sade’ Truitt coordinates this school’s Communities in Schools, a drop-out prevention program offering services and support to keep kids in school. She also is the school’s liaison to the Food Bank.

“We’re a Title I school,” she said, noting that 109 students receive backpacks.

“And they love it,” Sade’ said.

Schools which participate in the Backpack Program implement their own system for delivering the food to the recipients, and Campus Community is no exception. Here both the head of school and a parent volunteer team up to get the job done, ensuring the correct number of bags go to each classroom.

“We have created a culture of support, and (for) students who are extremely shy, we do it discretely. No one sees it, and they are out the door. The teachers also support the program and make it easy for the kids,” Sade’ added.

“Meeting the physical needs makes a difference.”

Danny, who is an only child, says he takes the package home, and then puts the milk in the refrigerator. He sometimes shares the juice with his father.

“My favorite thing is the cereal. Breakfast is my favorite meal, but the pudding is good too,” he said.

It costs $158 to provide a child with weekend food for one school year. To support the Backpack Program or to learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware’s Children’s Nutrition Programs, visit http://www.fbd.org.

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