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Backpack Ministry

Bags will be packed at the church facility on
Thursday nights at 6:00 pm

Backpack Food Program

Children are at risk for hunger and many families struggle to provide them with the nutrition they need to thrive.  As a result, some children are coming to school too distracted by their empty stomachs to focus on doing well in school. 

Old Fort Church is excited to partner with Old Fort School to provide a very basic need to children in our community.  We believe that children should not have to worry if they will have something to eat over the weekend.  Through this backpack program, we have the opportunity to meet that need and take away those fears.


The first backpack food program began in 1995. The program was developed in Little Rock, Arkansas out of the concern of a school nurse who was seeing a large number of children in her clinic tired, sick, and falling behind in class because of hunger and food scarcity in their homes.  She approached her local food bank, the Arkansas Rice Depot, to help her address the problem. Together, they launched the Food for Kids program which provided food for kids discretely in bags or backpacks to take home during the weekends when school meals were unavailable. Today, there are hundreds of backpack food programs across the country serving thousands of children. *Sourced from Hunger Free Colorado

What is a Backpack Food Program?

Every backpack food program is unique to the community and school it serves. Generally, backpack food programs provide a bag of nonperishable food to children in need that they can take home and eat when school meal programs are unavailable. These bags are often distributed at school to participating children in plastic or reusable bags by their teacher as they leave Friday or before a long break.

The contents of the bag can vary depending on the food and donations available. Many programs are able to provide enough food to replace the meals that children would receive at school (e.g. two breakfast options, two lunch options, two snack options, one can of fruit, and one can of vegetables).

How do children become participants?
An opt-in letter will be sent home to parents of children at the elementary.  This letter will describe the program and provide an opt-in form to fill out and return.  Also, if a student is identified as a child who could benefit from the program, a bag of food can be sent home with a Letter to Parent/opt out option.  The parent would not be told who recommended their child to avoid possible difficult situations with their teachers.

Items needed:

  • Food – monetary and food donations will be accepted at Old Fort Church. 
  • Backpacks – Non-descript backpacks.  The main idea is to have backpacks that look like something every other kid is carrying.  We don’t want the recipients to feel like they stick out.  We need durable backpacks in colors like black, navy, etc…  Students receive the bags on Friday and will need to return the bag by Tuesday in order to get it refilled.  We would like to have extra bags on hand to cover the likely event that some will be lost, torn, dirty, etc..
  • Volunteers – Help will be needed on Wednesday at 6:00 pm (Old Fort Church)
  • Money – It will cost approximately $25 per child each month.  If enough variety and quantity of food donations are received, then very little to no food will need to be purchased. Monetary donations can be made to Old Fort Church (designated to: Backpack Program).

Please contact Lindsay Sooy with questions
or if you’d like to get involved in this exciting opportunity. or 419-618-1219

Examples of Food Items Needed

Each bag will provide:
2 Breakfast Options
2 Lunch Options
2 Snack Options
1Fruit Option (usually a can)

Things to consider:
No glass containers
Children may not have access to cooking utensils.  Cans with pop-off tops are desirable.
Foods that are ready to eat or require little to no cooking.
Only include non-perishable food to eliminate food safety and storage problems.
Be prepared to provide options for students with food allergies.

Instant oatmeal packets
Boxes of cereal – individual servings
Granola bars
Cereal bars
Macaroni & Cheese
Small bags of pretzels, goldfish crackers, Lance crackers, Ritz sandwiches
Canned fruit in 100% juice
Applesauce – individual serving size
Fruit snacks/fruit leather
Canned vegetables like green beans, carrots or corn
Pudding cups
Microwave popcorn
Juice Boxes
Microwaveable single-serve Chef-boy-R-Dee, mac & cheese, Spaghetti-O’s
Hormel Completes (not spicy)

old fort church

8245 N. Main St.
Old Fort, OH 44861
Phone: (419) 992-4336

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