Backpack Update

The Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program continues to grow and thrive. We currently serve nearly 500 students in 16 Cambridge elementary and middle schools.

After a successful pilot last spring, we are now serving the Benjamin Banneker Charter School in North Cambridge.

This expansion was instigated when school administrator reached out to Food For Free Program Director Alanna Mallon last spring, asking if we could bring the program to the school. We started with a pilot, serving just six students. This allowed us to help the students most in-need at the school and to put procedures in place for bringing the Backpack Program to the school more broadly this fall. We now serve 30 students and have the capacity to add additional students as word of the program spreads within the school.

The program at the Banneker Charter School is supported by the school’s family liaison, who packs the bags, and two teachers who pick up the food from Cambridge Rindge and Latin Highschool, which is where we stage the program and divide up the food for all of the participating schools.

Life Science Cares Milk Drive
Our friends at Life Science Cares wanted to support the Backpack Program with a food drive this fall. Alanna suggested a milk drive, and a plan was hatched.

Life Science Cares organized their member companies in a month-long drive, which gathered enough milk to support the Backpack Program’s needs for a full month.

Funding
We are all hugely grateful to Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts for their support of the Backpack Program through a Healthy Living Community Grant.

While the Backpack Program is expected to receive partial funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts this year, the program is not yet fully funded. Also, we are mindful of the loss of funding that occurred last year due to Governor Baker’s “9C” cuts.

We welcome your support. You can give directly to the Backpack Program here through the end of the year.

If you prefer to give in kind, the Backpack Program is also seeking grocery store gift cards to assist families over the holidays. Donations of cards in $15, $25 and $40 denominations are welcome, preferably from Market Basket or Star/Shaws. These can be mailed Attn: Michelle, to Food For Free, at 11 Inman Street, Cambridge, 02139.
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