Backpack Programs - Action for Healthy Kids
Open Search

Backpack Programs

Print Page


Kids Eating SaladsWhat is a backpack food program? Backpack food programs provide nutritious, non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food to children to ensure they get enough food on weekends and holidays to avoid hunger when they can’t depend on school meals.

Every backpack food program is unique to the community and school it serves. By providing kids with the nutrients they need when they’re away from school, they show up on Monday morning healthy and ready to learn.

Take Action

Not sure where to start? Follow these steps to start a backpack food program at your school:

  • Contact your local food bank to determine if existing backpack food programs are available and other resources they can provide. Set up a meeting with the principal to discuss the possibility of starting a backpack program in your school.
  • Present at a staff and parent group meeting to garner additional support for the program.
  • Determine the specifics of your program, including the number of children you will target, strategies for marketing the program to families, a budget, and backpack compilation and distribution logistics.
  • Recruit volunteers to support your program.
  • Compile the backpacks and distribute them to students at your school or others in the community that may need them.


Contact your school or district’s main office to learn about your school’s potential need for a backpack program. If not yours, then maybe another one in the community.

Hunger can be a sensitive topic. Consider the best way to distribute backpacks so participating children feel comfortable and children not participating in the program do not feel left out.

Customize your program to meet your school’s needs. For example, if your program has limited capacity, consider doing monthly backpack distributions.

Continually evaluate your program determine ways to improve the program and serve as many students as possible.Engage volunteers to help with food donation pick-up/delivery to school, sorting and processing, packing bags, contacting businesses, or managing the program and training other volunteers.