In 2020, approximately 50% of Greenville County School children were eligible for free or reduced price school meals. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity is projected to have increased by at least 38% in Greenville County and it is now estimated that food insecurity affects almost one in five children. Food insecurity is particularly detrimental to children. Not having enough healthy food can have serious and long term effects on a child’s physical, mental and emotional health.
Local backpack food programs are one way to provide needed food to children who would otherwise not have adequate access to food during the weekends or school breaks. A backpack food program requires the cooperation and support of the entire community, including school officials, community organizations, faith-based organizations, parents and children.
To learn more how your organization can start a Backpack Food Program to support children facing hunger at Greenville County Schools, check out our Backpack Food Program Starter Kit. To get involved, reach out to Whitney Hanna, Coordinator of Community Collaboration at Greenville County Schools or Susan Frantz, Food Security Coalition Coordinator at LiveWell Greenville. They will be able to connect you with the appropriate contact at a school with a need for a backpack food program.
What is a Backpack Food Program?
Every backpack food program is unique to the community and school it serves. Generally, backpack food programs provide a bag of nonperishable food to children in need that they can take home and eat when school meal programs are unavailable. Many programs strive to provide enough food to replace the meals that children would receive at school.