More than 90,000 children in Harvesters' service area receive free and reduced-price school meals during the week, but are at risk of hunger on weekends.
Harvesters offers the BackSnack program, which provides backpacks of food to low-income children for the weekend, to combat weekend hunger. The program creates a partnership between Harvesters, a participating school and a local corporate, civic or religious organization.
Harvesters provides the food and the backpacks, and the partnering organization provides volunteers to pick them up, clean them out and pack them with food. Schools distribute the backpacks on Friday to students who bring them back on Monday to start the process again.
BackSnack Grows to Meet Need
BackSnack began in 2004 with a pilot project serving 30 students at one school. During the 2007-2008 school year, Harvesters served 650 students at 22 schools. With the help of the Hall Family Foundation and other committed partners, BackSnack has grown dramatically and served more than 16,600 students during the 2011-2012 school year. This year, the program will grow again to serve nearly 19,000 students each week.
BackSnack Improves Students' Health, Grades and Attendance
Harvesters hired the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership to evaluate the impact of the program. Three groups of stakeholders -- students, parents and schools -- were surveyed to determine how BackSnack impacts students in seven key areas: grades, attendance, behavior, health, self esteem, responsibility and social skills. Key findings of the evaluation are:
Grades improved by as much as 18 percent, especially in English, social studies and science.
BackSnack students had 14 percent fewer absences by the end of the school year.
Participants also had 23 percent fewer tardies.
Schools report discipline issues among BackSnack students were cut in half.
34 percent of parents say their child's health improved after participating in BackSnack.
40 percent of parents say their child's sense of responsibility increased.
Teachers say students' social skills significantly improve after the BackSnack program.
Read the 2009-2010 BackSnack evaluation results executive summary.
How can I help?
Become a financial donor: To get a backpack in the hands of nearly 19,000 children every week during the 2012-2013 school year, Harvesters needs the communityís help. $250 will provide a backpack to one child for an entire year. Donate to Harvestersí Childhood Hunger Initiative online or by phone at 816.929.3010.
Become a community partner: Community partners are needed to adopt schools for which they will clean, pack and deliver backpacks every week during the school year. Contact Paula Pratt, community outreach director, at InfoRequest@harvesters.org or 816.929.3091 to explore partnership opportunities.
Find out if your school is eligible for BackSnack: If your elementary school is interested in offering the BackSnack program, please have the principal contact Contact Paula Pratt, community outreach director, at InfoRequest@harvesters.org or 816.929.3091 .
For additional information, contact Paula Pratt, community outreach director, at InfoRequest@harvesters.org.