Forsyth Backpack Program is a local, all volunteer 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission to provide nutritious food in backpacks on weekends and holidays to local school children who have been identified by school personnel as being in need of food.
Without the backpack food, these children may have little to no access to food (healthy or otherwise) over the weekend or long holidays. With the food, the children are able to return to school after the weekend or holiday break better ready to pay attention, learn and play.
What We Do . . .
To achieve our mission and fulfill our vision, we:
- Serve as a Partner Agency to establish and operate Backpack programs and weekend feeding programs
- Accept Donations on behalf of Backpack and weekend feeding programs from organizations that cannot or will not donate to religious organizations, such as a school’s church partner agency. If the donor directs that the donation must be used for the benefit of a particular school program, we will follow that directive.
- Raise Awareness of Childhood Hunger in our community
- Share Best Practices and serve as a forum for communication among the established and new individual Backpack and weekend feeding programs
- Recruit and Place Volunteers for existing and new programs
- Locate Storage Space for food products
- Seek Grants for the benefit of multiple Backpack Programs
Our vision is (1) to serve as an umbrella organization to help Backpack and weekend feeding programs in Forsyth County better meet the challenges before them and (2) to act as a Partner Agency with Second Harvest to establish new programs and to provide supplemental food for weekends and long school breaks.
. . . and Why We Do It.
Teachers see the effects of hunger up close, and the impact that weekend and supplemental food makes. One local teacher said she couldn’t introduce new concepts to kids until Wednesday, after they had been at school to receive the free and reduced breakfast and lunch. After the Backpack Program started, she was able to introduce new concepts on Monday!
Talking about the Backpack Program, another local teacher said, “These students have been so beaten down by life that by the time they are 8 and 9 years old, they have given up. The food has helped reverse that. The food nourishes not just their bodies. It nourishes their minds. It nourishes their emotions. It nourishes them psychologically.”
What We’ve Accomplished
- As of the 2019-2020 school year, FBP operates five programs: School Programs, High School Food Closets, Holiday Supplemental Program, Summer Program, and Fruit Program
- School Programs — FBP provides weekend meals to approximately 400 students each school year weekend. Current programs include: Cook, Forest Park, Gibson, Elementary School Academy, Konnoak, Middle Fork, Union Cross and Jefferson elementary schools, and Hanes Middle School. FBP also works with, but does not run, the programs at Sherwood Forest and Whitaker elementary schools.
- High School Food Closets — FBP provides full sized canned and packaged goods for students to choose at Parkland High School and Middle College at Forsyth Technical Institute.
- Holiday Supplemental Program — FBP provides free meals for the entire length of the long holidays (Thanksgiving, Winter, Spring and Memorial Day breaks) to students participating in Backpack Programs throughout the county. For the 2018-2019 holidays, FBP provided meals to between 1100-1500 students in up to 28 schools in the district. FBP offered free holiday food to all 35 official Backpack Programs in the county, although a portion of the schools declined the offer for various reasons.
- Summer Program — During the summer of 2019, FBP provided backpack meals to campers participating in the Sci-Tech Camp at Winston-Salem State University, children participating in summer feeding programs at selected recreation centers, and at Kimberly Park Elementary. Total distribution for the summer was approximately 2,400 backpacks of food.
- Fruit Program — FBP coordinates fruit programs at Cook Elementary School, Kimberley Park Elementary School, and Gibson Elementary School. Through these programs, students receive apples and oranges in addition to their backpacks of food.
- Other Notable Achievements
- Raised awareness of childhood hunger issues by working with students at Wake Forest University and through speaking engagements at civic and church groups
- Involved hundreds of employees from major area businesses such as Wake Forest Baptist Health, Wells Fargo, Novant Health, Syngenta and BB&T in packing events
- Hosted community packing events with volunteers from community groups such as the Young Lawyers and Girl Scouts
- Been held up as an example of initiative mentioned by Mayor Joines in a speech to Winston-Salem Leadership
- Participated in the PGA Wyndham Championship charitable initiative Birdies Fore Backpacks since 2014
- Raised more than $417,000 from various community sources taking action to fight hunger since 2013
- Recipient of the 2015 Junior League of Winston-Salem Community Partner Award
Because FBP is an all volunteer organization, administrative costs are minimal — 98.1 % of all donations go directly to client services, with only 1.9% going to cover administrative costs and operating expenses.