In an effort to ensure our community’s children have enough to eat, Dare to Care started the Backpack Buddy program in 2004.
Starting with four local elementary schools, Dare to Care provided backpacks, full of kid-friendly nutritious food, each Friday that year to approximately 200 children at risk of hunger. Today, the Backpack Buddy program has grown to serve 40 schools, providing backpacks for more than 2,000 children each Friday. The program serves children who live in food insecure homes and are likely to experience hunger on the weekend, when free and reduced-price breakfasts and lunches are not available.
Children are signed up based on recommendations from their teachers. The teachers are made aware of signs to watch for, including: asking for food, taking food from others and complaining of frequent headaches and stomachaches.
Dare to Care purchases all items included in the backpacks, to ensure every child receives the same items that are kid-friendly and nutritious. Some examples of food items in the backpacks include: fresh fruit, instant oatmeal, cereal, ready-to-eat entrees, shelf-stable milk, sunflower seeds, vegetable cups and fruit cups.
Teachers at participating schools have shared the following outcomes as a result of Backpack Buddy:
- Participants have become more responsible in other aspects of life, including homework
- Participants have increased attendance on Fridays
- Participants are more alert on Mondays
- Participants have a greater sense of confidence and pride