Last week the Health Forward associates spent the morning at Harvesters’ sorting food to be included in the “BackSnack” program. Over 13,000 back packs full of nutritious food are given to low income children each Friday during the school year so that these children are not hungry over the weekend. Packing the bags is virtually a volunteer process that is shared by many folks from the Kansas City area.
Our Health Forward group assembled approximately 900 bags in about a three hour period. We worked hard and did not take any breaks. So to assemble 13,000 bags each week is a huge task. Fortunately, church groups, scouts, birthday parties, seniors, women’s groups, nonprofit organizations and business and civic groups are all proud volunteers for this effort.
First started in 2004, the BackSnack program was evaluated by the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership and it was determined that for all students in the BackSnack program:
- Grades improved by as much as 18%
- 14% had fever absences
- 23% less tardiness were reported
- Discipline issues were cut in half
- 34% of parents noted improved health for their child.
So while the BackSnack program was started to improve the health of students, it also has had many other positive outcomes.
Community partners are needed to adopt schools for which they will clean, pack and deliver backpacks every week during the school year. Contact Paula Pratt, Community Outreach Director, at 816-929-3091 to explore partnership opportunities. To volunteer for the many opportunities that Harvester provides please contact Chris Anderson at 816-929-3000.
While the BackSnack program will start again in August, volunteers for many other projects are needed year around. Not only will you feel great about your volunteer activity, you will help deserving folks obtain food to sustain their families.