Helping Hungry Students with Backpacks

It’s hard to concentrate when your hungry, that’s one of the basic insights that led to the creation of a new food program from food banks across the country: the BackPack Program. The Durango Herald reports on how the United Way of Southwest Colorado and Care and Share Food Bank is making a difference in the lives of hungry children with the BackPack Program. The BackPack Program provides food for the weekend for children and their families who might otherwise not be able to afford to eat.

“It affects everything,” said Care and Share Food Bank’s program director Jennifer Mariano. “Their cognitive abilities, developmental and psychological issues, the ability to concentrate, just to get up out of bed and move. No offense to the media, but hunger is a silent epidemic, and people find it hard to believe that it goes on in our own country and neighborhoods.”

And teachers are noticing that the extra food is making a difference.

“Teachers had been reporting that on Monday, students would come in tired, hungry, unready to learn. Once they got the backpacks, that immediately changed,” [Tim] Walsworth[, director of United Way of Southwest Colorado,] said.

In 2011, the BackPack program was piloted in Southwest Colorado and only around 40 backpacks a week were sent out, feeding around 180 people. There are still many more families that could benefit from such a program.

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