The Weekend Food Backpack Program was begun in the spring of 2009 as a way to provide meals to schoolchildren who ate free lunches at school during the week, but went home to empty cupboards on the weekends. We started with 18 packs in Scottsbluff that year, and the following January added a pack program in Gering. By the time school was out in 2010 we were sending home nearly 100 packs a week in the two districts. In 2011 as we complete our second year, we are providing 180 packs per week for hungry children, and estimate that we will have filled over 7000 packs since the program’s inception.
The backpack program is a collaborative effort of the Scottsbluff and Gering Schools and the Cooperative Ministry Council, a 501 (c)(3) charity, and all funds are raised and administered by the Council. 100% of money donated to the program goes to buy food for the backpacks. Students are referred by counselors, teachers and office staff, and the only requirement we have is that the families qualify for the free lunch program.
Packs contain an assortment of food, with an eye to providing as much nutritious food as we can with our available funds – approximately 15 items at a cost of about $5.00 per pack. Every week packs contain a piece of fresh fruit, an envelope of powdered milk that makes a quart, a canned meal, cereal, instant oatmeal, a box of juice, a cup of fruit, and a granola bar. In addition, we send packages of cheese crackers, a box of macaroni and cheese, Ramen noodles, a small treat, and often soup with crackers. Once a month we include a small jar of peanut butter and other foods are added as budget and donations provide.
Donations of food or cash can be brought to the Administration building at 1722 First Avenue in Scottsbluff or call either coordinator and they would be happy to pick up.
Missi Iasillo 308-225-2527 Scottsbluff Schools
Tracy Steele 436-2350 Gering Schools