Backpack Program has served over 21,000 meals to school children

Calvary Episcopal Church’s Backpack Program has announced it recently completed the 2012-13 school year in Warren County. It estimates more than 5,700 meals were provided with over 160 meals packed each week, bringing the total meal count to over 21,700 since the ministry began in 2011.

The Backpack Program provides weekend food to children identified as not having enough to eat at home. Calvary, in Front Royal, has partnered with Ressie Jeffries Elementary School to provide a backpack filled with nourishing, easy to eat foods for each child to take home for the weekend. Any member of the congregation may anonymously sponsor a child for only $20 per month.

During an average week, the team prepares meals for 42 backpacks at an average cost of $126 per week, or 75 cents per meal. Each child receives at least four meals for the weekend — a light breakfast of items like cereal and breakfast bars; lunch of foods like soups, tuna, chicken, crackers; and juice drinks with snacks.

In August the Backpack Program will begin using the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank to supplement the team’s ongoing bargain shopping on the open market.

An area Wells Fargo Outreach Team will help sponsor special programs for food and fund raising, such as by joining efforts with Wal-Mart for a late summer food drive.

On June 6, the Calvary Backpack Program Team hosted the first gathering of all local Backpack teams from the local congregations who host a program, as well as those interested in starting their own program. The goal is to begin new backpack programs of sharing, coordination and expanded outreach to support as many children as there is need.

Last year Calvary used a $5,000 grant it received from the Mustard Seed Fund of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to support its Kitchen Renovation Project, which aided in the expansion of the Backpack Program, along with helping its growing weekly soup kitchen, Tuesday’s Table.

The Backpack Program benefits all of Warren County’s elementary and middle schools.