Oregon Department of Education
Community and School Partnerships
City and School Partnerships
Backpack Food Program
Backpack Food Program
Pat Robertson and Karen Dummer stocking pantry shelves. Photo courtesy of the News Guard
Lincoln City Community and Lincoln City Schools
Feeding Tomorrow’s Future Today
The Weekly Reader newsletter provides a wealth of information for children and inspiration for adults. Karen Dummer, Family Advocate at Oceanlake Elementary School in Lincoln City, was reading with a student and a project from the South jumped off the page. The story was describing that children with little to nothing to eat over the weekends were anxious on Fridays dreading the hunger filled weekend to come. These same kids came to school on Mondays sick because of the starving weekend. The reason this story was so moving was because Karen realized that this was happening at Oceanlake.
With Karen and Health Assistant, Pat Robertson’s, determination to help their students meet their basic nutrition needs and the community’s support, the Backpack Food Program was born.
The Backpack Food Program provides chronically hungry children with food to take home over the weekends. Backpacks are stocked with nutritious, child-friendly, easy-to-prepare food and distributed to children on the last day before the weekend. The community has joined together to provide food storage space, and numerous volunteers give of their time weekly to help stock shelves, pick up donated food from various businesses and churches, purchase food, pack backpacks, and transport filled backpacks to schools.
This program is striving to ensure that their students’ nutritional, mental, and over all well-being needs can be met week to week. The success seen by participants in this program is astonishing! Documentation and feedback from administrative staff, faculty, parents, and children shows distinct improvements in behavior, academics, social interaction, and a lengthened attention span.
The identities of the students who participate in the Backpack Food Program are always kept confidential; adhering to this policy ensures that no student is identified for any reason. The backpacks used in the program are similar to the everyday backpacks used at school and no symbols are used to signify participants.
Within a year, the Backpack Food Program has gone from helping 10-12 children per week at one school to helping over 100 children a week at numerous schools, providing each a backpack full of food for the weekend. Each backpack is estimated to have over $14.00 retail value of food products, but the real value attributed to these 100-plus children having week-long nutrition is beyond statistics. The sheer growth of the program, supported by the community’s efforts is evidence of the great need.
No child should be left behind and no child should be hungry. The Lincoln City Backpack Food Program is feeding tomorrow’s future today.
To learn more about the Backpack Food Program,
,Backpack Food Program, (541) 994-4968