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 2,303 LPS students at 32 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 half of the 2017–18 school year, 29,873 food-filled backpacks were distributed. At the conservative estimate of five meals per backpack, that means this year the BackPack program has provided 149,365 meals. Additionally, new this year, four LPS elementary schools have transitioned from the Backpack program model and are instead piloting a food market model.
It costs about $250 for each student to receive a backpack for a year. This includes all essential program costs involved with distributing backpacks.
The need continues to grow dramatically
- This school year 18,427 of Lincoln Public Schools students—46 percent of all Lincoln Public Schools students (K-12)—qualify for free and reduced lunch. Around two-thirds of the elementary school children who qualify for free lunch do not receiving backpacks.
- Children who live in poverty face tougher odds for achievement than do other children.
- Children who live in poverty for at least half their childhoods are 90% more likely to leave high school without a diploma and four times more likely to be an unwed teen parent when compared with people who were never poor as a child.
- The 2015 Vital Signs reports reveals that Lincoln has a higher rate of poverty than the United States has as a whole and a higher rate of children in poverty. Lincoln has six “extreme poverty” areas (40% or more of the individuals live below the poverty threshold). There weren’t any extreme poverty areas 10 years ago. The number of people in poverty has increased by 58% since 2005.