BackPack Program

Launched in 2006

The Foodbank’s BackPack Program fills the weekend food gap for children who are homeless or living in transient housing and are at high risk for malnutrition.

During the school day, children are able to receive free lunches and snacks through the National School Lunch Program; however those in homeless or transient housing must fend for themselves over the weekend. Food is scarce and traditional emergency food sources are not readily available or easily accessible.

Twice a month, over a hundred BackPacks are filled with shelf-stable, nutritious foods such as high-protein canned items, fresh hand-held fruit, bottled water, bread, and other easy to prepare meals. In collaboration with the Santa Barbara County Education Office Transitional Youth Services Program, the assembled BackPacks are delivered to school sites countywide for identified, participating children to retrieve and share with their families. Each BackPack can provide up to six healthy meals for the weekend.

Serving as part of the Children’s Health Initiative, the Foodbank currently supports BackPack Program distributions in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Maria, and Tanglewood.

Who is Served

Children from families who are homeless or living in transient housing and are at high risk for malnutrition.

Program Impact

Minimal disruption in children’s’ food access while they are away from school.

Program Sites

  • the Foodbank currently supports BackPack Program distributions to children in transitional living situations in Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Goleta, Lompoc, Santa Maria, and New Cuyuma

Program Partners

Santa Barbara County Education Office – Transitional Youth Services

Opportunities to Get Involved

  • Volunteers to pack backpacks
  • Food donations

Special Content (photo, testimonial, video, story, etc.)

Each backpack weighs about 8 – 10 pounds. One young recipient was overheard saying, “It’s heavy, but it’s a good heavy.”

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