Placer Food Bank gets $25,000 grant for ‘Backpack Program’

Program feeds food-insecure children over the weekend
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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Throughout Placer Food Bank’s service area, 29,220 children are food insecure, meaning they don’t know where they will get their next meal.

This coverage area includes Placer, El Dorado and Nevada counties. About 40 percent of these food-insecure children receive federal nutrition assistance and get free or reduced-price lunches at school during the week. But what happens over the weekend?

“Placer Food Bank’s Backpack Program helps bridge the gap from school lunch on Friday to lunchtime on Monday by providing children with a weekend supply of nutritious, easy-to-prepare meals and snacks,” said Executive Director Dave Martinez in a press release.

The nonprofit organization recently got assistance with this mission from a $25,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation’s California State Giving Program. This money allows the food bank to continue its backpack program at the current level.

The program operates at three sites, including Woodbridge Elementary School in Roseville, North Roseville REC Center and Rock Creek Elementary School in Auburn, serving about 615 children weekly.

“This has been a life-changing program for many of our kids,” said Woodbridge Principal Dave Phillips in the release. “We’ve seen an improvement in students’ energy level, ability to pay attention in class and attendance since the Backpack Program was initiated here last year.”

The food bank wants to expand to at least one more campus by the end of the year. Feeding one child each week is $4, and funding one child per year is roughly $160. Kids get bags — placed into their backpacks — typically filled with juice, cereal, microwavable meals, apple sauce, fruit cups and milk.

“Our children are our future and our greatest asset,” Martinez said. “No child should go hungry.”