AAWGT: Making a difference in our community!
Anne Arundel County Food Bank
Back Pack Buddies
Anne Arundel County Food Bank’s Back Pack Buddies Program, an arm of Anne Arundel Food Bank, Inc. works alongside the Anne Arundel Public School System and local churches to provide a back pack each weekend containing four meals of healthy food and hygiene items to the most impoverished and at risk students and their families when school is not open to offer free lunch.
The Back Pack Buddies’ program occupies a small portion of a former Crownsville Mental Hospital building where the Anne Arundel Food and Resource Bank is located. With the money from our grant the program director, Susan Thomas, buys fresh produce and some non perishable items from U.S. Food, a government subsidized warehouse in Maryland. About 50% of other items come from the Food Bank, however it rarely has fresh vegetables and fruit. Our grant greatly increased the amount of produce that could be distributed. The AAWGT funding has enabled the Back Pack Buddies program to reach out to 51% more students this year and it now serves about 1,400 students. Schools, teachers and students are thrilled with the quality and quantity of items received.
The program director says she has students writing her letters all school year long asking to be in the program because they do not have food to eat at home. She also noted that parents who had never come inside the school before have come to help pack the meals during holiday weeks. Not only does this help with school involvement, it means that parents are participating in providing healthy meals to their children.
The way the program works: On Monday volunteers call and place orders for the number of back packs to be filled that week. Food is ordered by the director of the program on Tuesday. After food delivery, inmates from our correctional institutes sort and pack food for distribution. Volunteers pick up food on either Thursday or Friday. The food items are then taken to a place where they are packed into the backpacks and then delivered to the schools. Each child in the family gets his/her own back pack. Extra food is included for siblings who are not yet in school. Also, when holidays occur extra food is included to cover the days that children are not in school. Director Susan Thomas cited a new Anne Arundel County report stating that 40% of the people who are food insecure in our county are children (up from 30% last year).
Healthy food for Back Pack Buddies program