Every day, 22 million schoolchildren fill their cafeteria trays thanks to free or reduced-price meal programs, says the food bank network Feeding America.
For some children, these programs are their only access to meals. And when they leave school on Friday, they might not have access to enough food over the weekend.
Backpacks provide needed nutrition
For more than 15 years, the Feeding America network's BackPack Program and community healthcare supporters have worked to solve this problem, sending kids home with backpacks filled with nutritious food and juices for themselves and their families.
Kids receive their backpacks discreetly on Fridays, helping them learn about adopting healthy behaviors and providing enough food for a family of four to last the weekend. We're proud to include Abbott's ZonePerfect nutrition bars inside those backpacks, along with lots of other tasty, wholesome foods donated by other companies.
Community healthcare, at home and abroad
Abbott and the Abbott Fund are longtime supporters of the BackPack Program, with the Abbott Fund contributing more than $350,000 in grants and Abbott providing $150,000 in product donations, including the nutrition bars.
This work is part of Abbott’s broader support for Feeding America. For more than 20 years, Abbott and Feeding America have worked together to help meet critical community needs across the country. During this time, Abbott has donated more than $100 million in nutritional products to Feeding America.
But we've committed more than grants and product donations to this all-important program each school year. Abbott employees also volunteer their time to help fill and distribute the backpacks each week.
So far, we've helped feed more than 4,000 families (and counting) by sponsoring BackPack Programs near Abbott sites in these U.S. locations:
- Alameda, California
- Santa Ana, California
- Santa Clara, California
- Columbus, Ohio
- Dallas, Texas
- Altavista, Virginia
- Kenosha, Wisconsin
- Chicago, Illinois
- Puerto Rico
We've also committed to expanding this idea outside of the U.S. That's why, in 2010, we partnered with the Global FoodBanking Network to launch the first international BackPack Program in Mexico City.
Kids don't have to worry about food for the weekend, thanks to this community program.
All told, Abbott and the Abbott Fund help more than 145,200 children each school year through the BackPack Program, and we're thrilled to be a part of this effort. All of our volunteers are committed to building healthier communities, helping kids to adopt healthy behaviors and making a lasting difference.
Our volunteers have seen firsthand the excitement each little one has as they shake their backpacks and try to guess what goodies are inside.
The best part, of course, is knowing that these children and their siblings will not return to school hungry on Monday.