Backpack Buddy Program
About the Program:
The Backpack Buddies Program provides children in Cartersville City and Bartow County schools from food-insecure homes with weekend meals during the school year. Local corporations, civic groups, churches and individuals help collect and pack bags with kid-friendly non-perishable food. The children receive a backpack containing nutritious, self-serve food that will sustain them when school meals are not available. The children are selected by school principals, guidance counselors, social workers and various after school programs who identify the “at-risk” child. The program began as a pilot project in Fall 2010 serving 60 students. The program was sponsored by the Community Foundation. We are currently serving 330 students in the four city schools.
Fast Facts about BackPack Buddies
- Approximately 60% of children in our service area receive free or reduced price meals at school.
- $200 provides a child a backpack filled with nutritious food each weekend for the entire school year.
Why: We do this because research shows that hungry children have poorer mental and physical health, suffer with more behavioral disorders and are less prepared to learn when they are in school. Hunger is an increasing epidemic in our county and most residents are unaware. Did you know there were an estimated 700 homeless children in Cartersville (258)/Bartow County (442). The Backpack Buddies program is essential to help relieve hunger, which in turn will improve grades, health, school attendance and self-esteem in these children.
Food List: The backpacks are packed with the following items: Juice Boxes, Ramen Noodles, Poptarts, Easy Mac and Cheese, Applesauce, Fruit Cups, Granola Bars, Raisins, Fruit Snacks, Beanie Weanies and Spaghetti O’s. The idea is to provide items that children can prepare with little to no assistance and do not necessarily require cooking.
Who Helps Us: The program would not be possible without the assistance of our community volunteers who provide food, volunteers to pack, and/or funding. If you or your organizations are interested in helping with the Backpack Buddies program consider doing one or more of the following:
- Host a food drive - We would love for you to collect food items for us. We have experienced greater success when we "drive" for one food item at a time, for example "Juice Box January". See our food list above.
- Sponsor a Backpack Buddies Student - Your donation of $20 a month for a year will provide weekend meals and snacks for one child. Checks may be mailed to: BackPack Buddies, c/o Paula Womack, Cartersville City Schools, POB 3310, Cartersville, GA 30120. Any monies donated are split equally between the city and county school systems to ensure that ALL children in Bartow County are served.
- Pack and/or deliver backpacks - We need volunteers to help deliver bags on Thursday or Friday mornings.
Backpack Buddies Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp13VzZMyIY