Backpack Coordinators Help Chronically Hungry Students
MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma - The Regional Food Bank launched its Backpack Program in 2003 in five schools. Now, the program is in 481 schools across the state, helping to feed around 21,000 chronically hungry kids each year. Through the Backpack Program, they are receiving a backpack full of food each Friday to get them through the weekend. And it wouldn't be possible without the backpack coordinators at each school.
"We couldn't do that without them," said Dr. Rick Cobb, Superintendent of Mid-Del Schools.
Within many of the schools in the district, school counselors also hold the title of backpack coordinator.
"Our coordinators at the schools are actually the ones in contact with the students and making sure that that food gets to them," Dr. Cobb said.
Food that some kids desperately need.
"Students can't come to school and learn if they're hungry or if they're worried about when they're going to eat again," said Brandi York, Backpack Coordinator at Country Estates Elementary School.
Part of York's job is to search out those students who are struggling and she has informed other teachers and staff on how to read the warning signs.
"When they're in the cafeteria when they are eating, are they scarfing down everything on their plate are they constantly asking for more are they taking the food and putting it in their pockets," she said.
Once those students are identified they are placed in the Regional Food Bank's Backpack program.
"I have to stand in the middle of the hallway and say no running because it's a full-on sprint, they want to be the first ones in line and they're excited and they have their backpacks open and they're just ready," said Sharlette Samuels, Backpack Coordinator at Steed Elementary School.
"They'll give us big hugs, smiles and have a good weekend," York said. "It's those moments that make me realize just how important that is for that student."
A $100 donation provides a backpack of food for one child for an entire school year. For more information on how you can volunteer or donate, go to https://www.regionalfoodbank.org/ or you can also text FFK to 501501 to give $10 to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.