Since 2006, the Charleston County School District (CCSD) has partnered with the Lowcountry Food Bank (LCFB) to serve at-risk students through a program called BackPack Buddies Program. The mission is to meet the needs of children at risk of hunger or homelessness under the McKinney-Vento Act by providing them with nutritious and easy-to-prepare food to take home on weekends and school vacations when they do not have access to free and reduced-price school meals.
Through partnerships with civic, business, faith-based, academic and community organizations over the past eight years, the LCFB’s BackPack Buddies Program has grown tremendously. LCFB delivers items monthly to each school and students are sent home with food every Friday.
According to Sonya Jones, CCSD’s Title I Programs Compliance Administrator in the Department of Federal Programs, the Lowcountry Food Bank began collaborating with the district’s Department of Federal Programs, during the 2015-2016 school year. “To date, over 29,000 bags have been distributed and currently, up to 177 students are receiving assistance each month,” said Jones.
Just like with the traditional BackPack Buddies model, approximately 4-lb. bags of kid-friendly, shelf-stable food (including cans of pasta and vegetables, fruit cups, shelf-stable milk, cereal, fruit strips, pudding cups, and whole grain cookies) are sent home with students every Friday during the school year. Unlike the traditional model, these bags follow the students to the schools they may be attending.
Jones said the Lowcountry Food Bank wants to make a difference because they realized that students whose families are experiencing economic instability might end up moving multiple times during a school year, which can disrupt a student’s learning in many ways, and they do not want hunger to be another challenge. “CCSD is tremendously thankful to the Lowcountry Food Bank for providing this opportunity for students in need,” said Jones.
If you have any questions, contact Sonya Jones in the Department of Federal Programs at 843-937-7920. For more information, contact the Office of Strategy and Communications at (843) 937-6303.