Beginning in 2007, concerned citizens in Kent County at the grass roots level recognized the fact that a large number of our children live in homes where there is insufficient food, and as a result, local backpack programs emerged. The Backpack Program refers to organized efforts in our community to provide a bag of nutritious meals and snacks for school children on a weekly basis. These foods are provided for the weekend when school breakfasts and lunches are not available to children who live with food insecurity. The goal is to relieve immediate hunger and to allow children to come to school on Monday feeling well and ready to learn.
In school year 2015-2016, 1014 of the 2018 students enrolled in Kent County Public Schools received free breakfast and lunch, 50% of the total school population. This school year, 2016-2017, volunteers are packing meals for 289 students, 28% of the students with free lunch status:
- Kent Co. Middle School 50 students
- Garnett Elementary 90 students
- Rock Hall Elementary 60 students
- Galena Elementary 16 students
- Worton Elementary 40 students
- Millington Elementary 33 students
The Backpack Program began in Rock Hall 10 years ago. Garnett Elementary students were added in 2009, Kent County Middle in 2010, and soon followed by Millington, Worton, and Galena Elementary Schools.
The Community Food Pantry learned of these efforts of volunteers in churches and civic organizations, and in 2010 invited the backpack committees to order shelf stable individual servings of food from the Maryland Food Bank at no charge. Presently the Food Pantry is funding over $28,000 of backpack food a year. In addition, many individuals, churches and other organizations purchase food or make financial contributions.
Donations for the Backpack Program can be mailed to Backpack Program, c/o The Community Food Pantry, P.O. Box 346, Chestertown, MD 21620. Please make out the check to “Backpack Program.”