“I just want to thank you for this program. Our family has struggled so hard over the last few years and this simple act of generosity has been a tremendous help.”

Below is an overview of Share’s Backpack Program and how it operated prior to the impacts of COVID-19. When this crisis has passed, and schools are able to safely open, we hope to pick the program up where it left off.

We serve a total of 112 schools in all three of our school-year Hunger Response programs, which include our Backpacks, Fresh Food Pantries and Pantry Boxes. (Note that some schools receive food from multiple programs.)

104 Backpack Schools: 1,830 bags of non-perishable food are delivered each Thursdays during the school year to help provide food to low-income families over the weekend when there is no access to school lunch. The bags are 6–8 pounds, and contain: fruit or vegetable, boxed meal or mac n cheese, canned chili or soup, canned protein, rice or pasta, and a snack.

Our goal is to provide the staples needed for two family meals; items are coordinated so that families can create a complete and nutritious meal. We also provide 65 ‘hotel’ bags that are made up of foods that do not require a can opener or a kitchen to prepare. Our goal with the hotel bags is to support families and children facing homelessness. These include unaccompanied youth, families living in a car, children or families who are couch surfing, and many other situations in which a child or family might find themselves without a kitchen or utensils.

Most Needed Items for Backpack Program

Shelf-stable, protein-rich foods are the single-best food items to donate. Canned or easy-open meats (chicken, tuna fish, ham, etc.) canned chili and high-protein soups are easy to transport and simple to prepare. These items are not only nutritious, but are also ideal for families who do not have access to a stove for cooking, as they can be heated in a microwave. Click below for examples of shelf-stable protein items.

Put Protein First: A List of Needed Shelf-Stable, Protein Items

Note: Space in bags is limited so smaller items are preferred and allow us to pack more into each bag. As these are also being distributed to young children, we do not include any glass in the bags, so plastic jars and containers are preferred.

The packs are discretely given out on Friday after school to ensure that children, and their families, have nutritious food to eat over the weekend. The Backpack Program operates under anonymity; we do this to protect the privacy of the children and their families as hunger and poverty are often highly stigmatized in our society.

The Backpack Program operates in large part due to the generosity of volunteers. It takes about 50 volunteers donating 115+ hours of time to stock the shelves, bag the food and deliver the backpacks each week.

Fresh Food Pantries: 15 local schools receive 500-700 pounds of fresh produce, dairy, meat, and bread twice per month; an additional 10 schools receives food once per month. In all, 450+ families are served every month (2,000+ family members/individuals). Share partners with the Clark County Food Bank to deliver fresh, nutritionally-dense food to under served populations in the community through school pantries.

13 Non-Perishable Pantry Boxes: Boxes weighing 25 pounds provide breakfast, lunch, and snack items to high schools’ and middle schools’ resource center cupboards so that students can access food throughout the school day as needed. These foods are important to keep students focused and thriving in school as well as their after-school activities. It provides an entry point for students to be able to access other school and community resources available to them through their counselor and resource center.

Thinking of having a food drive for Share?

We can make it easy with our list of top ten food needs. Please contact Heather Walker at (360) 952-8312 or hwalker@sharevancouver.org.

For more information on our Backpack Program, contact Becci Read-Ryan, Hunger Response Assistant Director, at (360) 553-8064 or bread-ryan@sharevancouver.org.

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