(DECEMBER 2 – SOMERVILLE) The Somerville Backpack Program is raising awareness among Somerville residents
this week about the work the new organization is doing to tackle weekend hunger faced by SPS students and is encouraging families to help this holiday season.
Somerville Backpack Program volunteers deliver bags of nutritious food containing breakfast, lunch, snack and fresh fruit to students at the East Somerville Community School and the Next Wave and Full Circle Schools every Friday. The program supplements the free school meals students and their families rely on during the school week, but don’t have access to during the weekend.
On Giving Tuesday Backpack program volunteers and community partners encouraged Somerville residents to donate through it’s website, www.somervillebackpackprogram.org, to provide Somerville students with the nutrition they need to succeed.
“We kept hearing that some students were returning to school on Monday more tired and distracted than when they left on Friday because of a lack of access to food on the weekend,” said Ross Richmond, who founded the program last spring. “Students who rely on Somerville’s breakfast and lunch programs during the week are still required to be students on the weekend. The Backpack Program provides nutritional support outside of school so that these student can succeed throughout the entire week.”
The Somerville Backpack Program is modeled after national backpack food programs and began as a pilot program last spring at Next Wave and Full Circle Schools with seed funding from Shape Up Somerville and the Cambridge Health Alliance. This school year the program has continued at Next Wave and Full Circle and expanded to provide food to students at the East Somerville Community School. The program is based out of the Beautiful Stuff Project and Connexion Church in East Somerville.
A bag of food for one student is less than $4 a week, or $150 to sponsor a student for the entire school year. And a $30 contribution provides a month’s worth of food for the weekend for a family with 2 students.
For more information residents can contact Ross Richmond at 617.863.0177 or visit www.somervillebackpackprogram.org.