Childhood hunger is a fact of life in Bellevue. One in five students in the Bellevue School District qualifies for free and reduced price meals at school. For some of these kids, school meals represent the bulk of their weekly nutrition.
On weekends, they used to go hungry.
Since March of 2012, Backpack Meals for Kids has been working to eliminate the tragedy of weekend hunger. We started in two schools, providing weekend meals for 20-30 students weekly. Today, we serve 22 schools and provided 29,500 meals in the 2015-2016 school year.
2016-17 ANNUAL REPORT
(click here to download)
THE GOOD NEWS – GIANT LEAPS
The 2016-17 school year was a time of growth and change for Backpack Meals for Kids. This was the year that we made a great leap forward in meeting the nutritional needs of Bellevue students. After five years of serving grades 5-12, we advanced in 2016-17 to serving all grade levels, K-12, more than doubling our output of the previous year.
We became a 10-month program, completing our first summer school project through the generosity of our summer partnership with St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church congregation. And we laid plans for our second year of summer school feeding, again serving all grade levels.
ALL BECAUSE OF YOU
The program’s dramatic progress in 2016-17 was made possible by the generosity of our donors and supporters. Businesses, organizations, faith groups and individuals stepped forward to partner with Backpack Meals in the fight against hunger. Meet some of our extraordinary supporters:
- For the fourth year in a row, the Windermere Foundation provided Backpack Meals with a $10,000 grant.
- Bellevue Sunrise Rotary gave a $2,500 grant to serve as a match for the Give Big program, which netted another $9,059 for Backpack Meals.
- The fifth graders at Cherry Crest Elementary School donated $2,000 from a project to “thank their school and their community for the wonderful years they had at Cherry Crest Elementary.”
- The congregation of Bellevue Christian Church donated $15,000 in keeping with their community service mission.
- And the Muslim Community Resource Center provided a year-end gift of $1,500 in addition to their significant in-kind gift: total sponsorship (purchasing and packing of all food) for one elementary school for five full months, a gift valued at $8,000 but priceless in terms of showing support for kids in need.
As an all-volunteer, non-profit organization, Backpack Meals depends on its volunteers to process and deliver food packs to 28 schools on a weekly basis. Volunteers also plan and administer the program.
Again this year, Backpack Meals surveyed students and families to determine their level of satisfaction with the program. The results showed a high level of satisfaction with:
- 99% The overall Backpack Meals program
- 96% Quantity of food
- 99% Quality of food
- 96% Types of food provided
- 99% Distribution/pick-up process
We heard words of thanks directly from Backpack Meals families. One young recipient sent a card, decorated with hearts, with this message: “Thank you very much. It has to be someone with a big heart to send food.”
We also heard from school teachers and counselors about the impact of Backpack Meals on their students. Here’s a note from the Family Connections Center coordinator at Sherwood Forest Elementary, where an average of 67 children receive weekend meals each week:
“One single mom told the FCC staff how . . . she used to send her daughter to the grandparents’ house for meals on weekends when she had to work long hours. The kid had to walk 20 minutes from Bellevue to Redmond for lunch and dinner. With his bag [from Backpack Meals] the kid can stay home safely with food to eat. A small bag of food means a lot to many families.”
BUDGET AT A GLANCE 2016-17
We welcome comments and ideas, and we look forward to hearing from our friends and supporters. Please see our web site, www.backpackmeals.org, for more information, to donate, or to join our volunteer effort.
Backpack Meals extends heartfelt thanks for the support of a caring, generous community.