The Food Bank of Lincoln launched the BackPack Program during the 2004-2005 school year at Clinton Elementary School, sending home food-filled backpacks on Friday afternoons with 50 kids.
Children are our most important and valuable assets, and research shows that healthy, well-nourished children are much better learners. During the week, our students who qualify for free and reduced lunches are provided nutritious breakfasts and lunches at school. In fact, for some students, the school’s breakfast and lunch are their only meals of the day. But during the weekend this can create a food crisis for these children and their families: a weekend can be a long time to go without food.
Currently 2,500 LPS students at 34 LPS schools receive weekly food-filled backpacks.
The program now includes students from private and parochial schools in Lincoln, as well as from 28 rural communities.
During the first three months of the 2012–13 school year, 27,728 food-filled backpacks were distributed. At the conservative estimate of five meals per backpack, that means this year the BackPack program has provided 138,640 meals.
It costs about $200 for each student to receive a backpack for a year.
The need continues to grow dramatically: This school year a record 15,099 of Lincoln Public Schools students qualify for free and reduced lunch. That means 42.5 percent of all LPS students now qualify – 45.3 percent of preschool-fifth graders. Census figures from 2010 reveal there are 11,890 food-insecure children under the age of 18 in Lancaster County.
Food-insecure meaning children do not know where their next meal will come from.