Close to 21,000 Oklahoma kids take home a backpack full of food each Friday during the school year.
The backpacks are filled with food purchased by the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. The program is the food bank's most expensive Food for Kids Program, costing $2 million a year. That's why it depends on donations and volunteers, while also find unique ways to save money.
"A quarter of what comes into the food bank is packaged by our volunteers," said Cassie Gilman, the Chief Development Officer at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.
The food bank's volunteer center stays busy, with 43,000 people donating their time each year to make a difference.
"We could not do our work without volunteers," Gilman said.
During the school year, a lot of work goes into preparing these foods for the Backpack Program.
"We've got some easy mac and cheese that they can prepare, we've got peanut butter and jelly, crackers that come in there, I just noticed they have a new product, they get applesauce and a granola bar," she said.
While most of the food is purchased by the food back, this past year, they decided to source cereal, which means they receive 500-pound boxes of donated cereal. Sourcing the cereal saves the food bank $100,000 dollars a year.
"While it might cost less, there's some sweat equity so we are always looking for volunteers to come in," said Gilman.
The volunteers are needed to break down the cereal into three-ounce packages for each backpack.
"If these kids get the nutrition, they need to sustain them over the weekend hopefully they have food lunch and breakfast that's provided at school throughout the week," she said. "They at allows them to have the energy to get through the week at school and learn."
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.