The Backpack Program
Foodshare, the food bank serving Hartford and Tolland counties, estimates that currently there are 128,000 people living with hunger in the greater Hartford area. Of those individuals who regularly do not have enough to eat, 50,000 are children. Hunger in turn, leads to poor health, weak academic performance, low school or work attendance, and a strain on limited social safety nets. In the Upper Albany neighborhood, 40% of children (under the age of 18) are living at or below the poverty level. Many of these children utilize school and after-school provided meals for their nourishment and, along with their families, rely on the overburdened area food pantries. To reach these children and their families, the Junior League of Hartford has instituted a Backpack Program designed to provide necessary food at times when the school-provided meals are not available.
The JLH oversees the Backpack Program at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School. Each week, 25 backpacks are filled with child-friendly, nonperishable, vitamin-fortified foods for the weekend. The backpacks contain enough food to feed the child for two days and include food for at least one family meal. The backpacks are discreetly distributed to children on Friday afternoons and collected early the following week. In addition to food, the backpacks contain information about how to prepare healthy snacks or meals with the food provided, nutritional tips and non-food items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, pencils, children's books, hats, mittens, and information on area social services and resources. Because we seek to provide enough food to help feed the participating children's families in addition to the children themselves, we estimate that the Backpack Program feeds over 125 individuals each weekend.
The Backpack Program is a program of the Junior League of Hartford in association with the Unitarian Society of Hartford, the Watkinson School, and the Village for Families and Children, which provides operational support. Our Backpack Program is entirely volunteer run and supported through grants, community donations, volunteer assistance, food and supply drives. Please consider supporting this program with your own contribution of time, energy or financial support. Please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the Program or to discuss ways to become involved.
Donate to the Backpack Program
You may donate through the website or by downloading and mailing the form below along with your check to the Junior League of Hartford office.
We sincerely appreciate your support of the Backpack Program!