One year has already passed since parent volunteers launched the Backpack Program at Nehalem Elementary. The program, which provides food for children who face hunger over weekends and holidays continues to grow.
“We currently serve 32 families and continue to have new families enroll,” said Rose Hucek, program founder, “We are so grateful for the generous donations we’ve received from our community this past year. Because of this money we’ve been able to provide larger bags of food to more families.”
The NES backpack program has been thriving thanks to regular food donations from local businesses Little Apple Grocery, Fresh Foods, and Mohler Co-op, as well as the North County Food Bank. In addition, monetary donations have made program expansion possible.
Over the holiday break in December the program offered large boxes of perishables for entire families that included several pounds of fresh produce as well as shelf stable foods.
“We feel it is important to do all we can for families over the longer breaks,” said Kelly Ayres, a parent who assists Hucek with the program.
Every Friday, volunteers provide the children who are enrolled in the program with a bag of food for the weekend. All of the food is child-friendly, nutritious, small and light enough to carry in a backpack, shelf-stable, and easy to prepare, even without a stove. These food resources support the health, behavior, and achievement of every student that participates. The success in programs like this can be seen in positive changes in student attendance, behaviors, and grades.
“As our program grows, so do the costs,” said Ayres, “All donations are appreciated. Food donations that are most needed now include canned food with pop-tops, fresh fruit and vegetables, cereal, shelf-stable milk, crackers, peanut butter, and jam. And monetary gifts allow us to purchase specific items as needed.”
To donate in any dollar amount please make checks payable to Nehalem Elementary School Backpack Program, P.O. Box 190 Nehalem, OR 97131 or drop checks off directly at the Nehalem Elementary School office. For more information or to donate specific food items, please contact Program Coordinator Rose Hucek at 503-440-9686.