The backpack program at the Regional Food Bank relies on the community to keep it going, from donations to volunteers. It all starts with a donation. For every $200 collected, one child will receive a backpack full of food each week for the entire school year.
"At the Regional Food Bank we do it all," said Angie Doss, with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
Doss says once a donation comes into the food bank, they purchase the food items that will go into the Backpack Program, which provides chronically hungry children with backpacks filled with non-perishable, nutritious, kid-friendly food over the weekends and school holidays.
"All the food we get for our Backpack Program is housed in the warehouse," she said. "Our warehouse is very, very busy because we know the faster we can get things done the more efficient we are, the more food we're going to be able to provide to chronically hungry children, family and seniors in Oklahoma."
Each week, volunteers come to the food bank to pack the kids sacks that will go into the backpacks. The food bags contain approximately 10 different purchased foods designed to provide nutrition and calories. When the boxes are packed, the warehouse staff loads the trucks to ship out the food to more than 500 schools across central and western Oklahoma.
"When the food gets to the schools, our coordinators unpack those boxes and on Fridays they put the sacks into the backpacks of children who are on our backpack program," Doss said. "One of the reasons we're so successful is because of the support of the community so that includes the donors who are helping fight hunger through making a donation, our volunteers who are out here packing our sacks full of food."
During the 2015-2016 school year, the Backpack Program served 18,816 elementary school students, providing more than two million meals for chronically hungry children. This year, that number is expected to increase by 3,000 students.
"We're thankful for everyone in the community coming together because no child should ever go hungry and thanks to their support hopefully no child will," she said.
A partnership through Oklahoma farmers and ranchers, the FFA and others help provide over a million beef sticks and pork sticks to go into the Food for Kids backpacks. If you would like to donate or volunteer with the Food for Kids program, click here or text FFK to 501-501.