The Backpack Program is Saved!

Back in early December, we had a bit of a scare. Governor Baker, as part of his 9C budget cuts, slashed $110,000 of state funding for the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program. This was 100% of the funding we had been promised by the state and 68% of the total funding for this program. (And almost 12% of Food For Free’s entire budget for the year!)

Happening five months into our fiscal year, this was pretty scary. Could we recoup this funding? Would we have to scale back the program?

"We were very worried when these cuts came down," said Sasha Purpura, Food For Free's Executive Director. "Cutting the program wasn't something I was willing to consider, but I just didn't know how we were going to raise that much money halfway through our fiscal year."

The good news? Our supporters rode to the rescue!

Nearly 300 individuals, local businesses, and private family foundations responded, donating over $60,000 in less than two months. And, just last week, Biogen, a biotech company with offices in East Cambridge, committed $20,000 in funding.

The City of Cambridge—awesome as always—has also stepped up to the plate, committing the remaining $35,000 still needed to replace the entire $110,000 that was lost.

We are now 90% of the way to funding the program—in its entirety—for this fiscal year. Which is to say, we’re in better shape than before we lost state funds.

Further more, Cambridge's City Manager, Louie DePasquale (who is in the middle of his budget process,) will be making a $75 000 funding recommendation to the City Council for the next fiscal year (thank you, Louie and thank you, Cambridge!), which means—with your continued support and that of business partners like Biogen—the Backpack Program should have stable funding for years to come.

Of Biogen Foundation's support, Chris Barr, Executive Director, Biogen Foundation and Associate Director, Community Relations for Biogen says:
Food For Free's Weekend Backpack Program is such an important resource for Cambridge kids. The Biogen Foundation is so proud to have played a role in preserving this program.
So, thank you! Thank you, individuals who chipped in, businesses that found some money in your budgets, activists who helped us spread the word, Chris Barr and his team at Biogen, Vice Mayor McGovern and Councillor Cheung for raising this in city council and Louis Depasquale for lending city support. Thanks to you, Cambridge schoolchildren can continue to depend on this program. They can look forward to weekends full of healthy meals and to attending class on Monday mornings well-fed and able to learn.

Our supporters are the BEST.

One final note: because the crisis has passed, we have now taken down the “Donate Now” button on the Backpack Program page. You can, of course, still donate to Food For Free here where your donation will support the Backpack Program as well as ALL of Food For Free's (awesome, if we do say so ourselves) programs, like Food Rescue, Home Delivery, and Family Meals. So, go ahead and donate if you like, and know that your support always matters to people who might otherwise go hungry.

This entry was posted in fundraising, Newsletter Updates, Newsletters, Programs and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.