The Food Pantry’s Backpack Program began in 2010.  At this time, the Pantry learned of efforts by small groups in the County to provide food to students who clearly needed food assistance when they were not in school. The Board of Directors committed to funding the local efforts, and soon all schools in Kent County Public Schools received food for identified students living with food insecurity. This all volunteer program has been operating since 2010. The food is purchased from the Maryland Food Bank and local grocery stores; other groups also provide food for the program. In the 2023-24 school year,  students in the three elementary schools take home weekend meals and snacks on Friday afternoons in their backpacks: the approximately 200 students are in need of supplemental food on weekends due to food insecurity in the home.  In addition,  a supply of toiletry items and nutritious snacks are made available to the counselors at the middle school and high school for students who request them. During the school year, the Pantry also provides snacks for students in all Kent County Public Schools schools when requested by the counselors.

The bags of food distributed by the schools contain cereal, juice, shelf stable milk, fruit, snacks and four protein meals –  twelve items in all.

The Backpack Program provided weekend meals to students attending the 2023 KCPS summer school program in July.  In addition, we provided weekend meals to all students attending the Horizons Program of Kent County.

Thank you to the Carl and Constance Ferris Charitable Trust Foundation and all our donors who enable this program to continue.  This is an all-volunteer program that distributes food purchased by the Community Food Pantry along with donations of food from the community.

If your child or children need this food, it is available at all Kent County schools the last day of every school week.  Please call the Pantry at            410-778-0550 with questions, or call your child’s school counselor.  Also, you may contact Sue Basener, the Backpack Program Co-Coordinator, at

For the seventh year in a row, Peoples Bank and many generous local sponsors, will put their energy, staff, and finances behind Chester Gras, a Mardi Gras celebration that benefits our backpack programs. On February 22, 2020, beginning at 11:30, the event will take place in a large heated tent on Spring Street, adjacent to the Peoples Bank in downtown Chestertown. The event features delicious gumbos donated by area restaurants as well as some Cajun food, a silent auction, children’s activities, a colorful parade on High Street, and lively music by Phil Dutton and the Alligators. This family-friendly event is well attended by people of all ages – some in Mardi Gras attire! Over the past six years, Chester Gras has raised significant funding for the Food Pantry to purchase food for the five backpack programs in Kent County Schools as well as in Sudlersville. These volunteer run programs provide weekend food (in the students’ backpacks) for children in our public schools who live with food insecurity. Last year, over $10,000 was raised, thanks to all the participants, Peoples Bank staff, generous sponsors from business and individual donations, and many volunteers from the community.

For more information or if you wish to donate resources or time, please contact the Food Pantry either through this website or call 410-778-0550. You may call the Backpack Program Coordinator, Rachel Perry, at 410-810-3949 or email Thank you!