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Food for Kids Backpack Program

The Regional Food Bank started the Food for Kids Backpack Program in January 2003 in response to hearing a firsthand account of an Oklahoma City elementary student who fainted on a Monday morning, while waiting in the school lunch line, due to lack of food over the weekend. The program provides chronically hungry children, identified by school personnel, with backpacks filled with non-perishable, kid-friendly food to eat on weekends and school holidays.

The program was launched in 2003 with five Oklahoma City schools serving 180 children. The Backpack Program has grown significantly since 2003, serving 477 elementary schools in 53 counties across central and western Oklahoma, providing backpacks to more than 15,000 chronically hungry children each week during the 2012-2013 school year. The Backpack program added nearly 2,000 children this year. The program continues to expand, with new schools being added each semester.

According to a survey of Backpack Program Coordinators, the program has reduced absenteeism, improved grades and behavorial problems among chronically hungry children. 

As a result of the Food for Kids Backpack Program, many teachers have reported:

  • Better school attendance
  • Improved school performance
  • Better concentration in the classroom
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Reduced signs of hunger

The Regional Food Bank supplies and delivers pre-assembled food sacks and backpacks to participating schools at no cost to the school. 

Pre-assembled food bags will contain approximately 10 different foods designed to provide nutrition and calories for chronically hungry kids on the weekend. These are kid-friendly foods that require no preparation.  Kids can just “open and eat.”

Food 4 Kids at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma

(This photo does not necessarily represent the actual food items contained in the Food for Kids backpacks.  Please see new list of food items below.)

Backpack items include:

  • Beef Sticks, courtesy of the Beef for Backpacks program
  • Peanut Butter (12 ounce jar) and a sleeve of crackers
  • Beans and Franks (pop-top can)
  • Beef stew (pop-top can)
  • Cereal (1 ounce bowl)
  • Fruit cups (peaches, applesauce, etc.)
  • Vegetable cups (corn, green beans, etc.)
  • Snack mixes
  • Raisins (snack size boxes)
  • Pudding cups
  • Juice boxes (apple, orange, or other 100% juice)
  • Milk, both white and chocolate (do not require refrigeration)
  • Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
  • Cereal bars or granola bars

A $200 donation can provide enough weekend food for one child for an entire school year. A gift of $5,000 will provide enough food for 25 hungry children at one school for an entire school year. Please donate now to the Regional Food Bank.

If you are interested in starting the Food for Kids Backpack Program at your school or have a question about the program, please email backpackprogram@regionalfoodbank.org or call 405-604-7103.

If you are interested in making a donation to the Backpack Program or would like to know more about fundraising for this program please contact Lisa Perry via email at lperry@regionalfoodbank.org or at 405-604-7107.

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