Many East Texas children who participate in free and reduced price school meal programs during the week face hunger on weekends and holidays, when those programs do not operate. The East Texas Food Bank BackPack Program was designed to close this weekend hunger gap for these children. Staff and faculty members at school campuses choose which children join the program, based on an assessment of need. On Fridays, participating children each receive a backpack filled with nutritious, kid-friendly items such as fruit, juice, cereal bars and shelf-stable milk to help last them until Monday morning, when school meal programs resume.
Over 182,000 backpacks were distributed in the 2020 – 2021 school year at 149 partner school sites. Nearly 8,000 children were served by the BackPack Program.