At Taylor Park Elementary School, Friday afternoons mean something special to fifteen local families – and not just the end of another week. Friday is when their children pick up a blue wheeled backpack full of nutritious food to bring home for the weekend.
Taylor Park is one of a handful of schools in Freeport participating in Northern Illinois Food Bank’s BackPack Program, which provides food to supplement weekly meals for a child and their siblings. Children are identified by school staff, who recognize signs of chronic hunger or are aware of families in need, and distribute backpacks to students at the end of the week.
Marie Stott, Family Resource Coordinator at Taylor Park, shares that the backpacks distributed to these families each week provides food for the weekend to more than 30 children.
The variety of food inside each BackPack is determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate Program, which suggests children have at least one serving of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and dairy with each meal. Every BackPack contains all of these components, along with accompanying recipes families can use to prepare their meals.
The families at Taylor Park Elementary and so many others in Freeport and across Northern Illinois receive a weekly backpack of food thanks to generous community support, as the program is entirely dependent upon funding from private donations.
Last year, thanks to the people and organizations who supported the BackPack Program, the Food Bank provided 727,000 meals for children at 204 sites across our service area.
Thank you for doing what matters and helping us solve hunger, one backpack at a time!