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BackPack Buddies

BackPack Buddies provides children from food-insecure homes with healthy weekend meals during the school year. The children, selected by school principals, guidance counselors, and supervisors of various after school programs, receive a backpack containing six balanced meals and two healthy snacks at the end of every week. Local corporations, civic groups, and individuals help collect and pack bags with kid-friendly non-perishable food or become official sponsors.

Fast Facts

  • Over 118,000 children (44%)  in our service area applied for free or reduced price meals during the 2014-2015 school year (the most recent year of data available)1
  • 1 in 4 children are at risk of hunger in North Carolina2
  • During the 2015-16 school year, 2,024 children will be served 74,888 BackPacks at 67 sites across 7 counties

Hold a Food Drive for BackPack Buddies

We always need items to send home with hungry children over the weekend. Donating canned proteins (such as tuna & chicken) is particularly helpful because we routinely purchase those items to make sure the backpacks are nutritionally balanced.  Every can you donate is one less we have to purchase!  See a complete list of the items needed hereFind more information on how to hold a healthy food drive here.

Want a new idea for celebrating  your child’s birthday? Invite the kids to bring BackPack Buddies food items. Let us know when you drop off the food and we’ll send your child a special thank you card.


It would be impossible for BackPack Buddies to have such an impact without the strong support of our sponsors. Sponsorships fund the costs of food for 37 weekends, gas for deliveries, administration costs, and bags for the food. We are counting on your support in order to make the school year a success. Learn more here.

Caliber CollisionCaterpillar Foundation  FG_294_wtag_8

Support a School

Testimonials: Meeting the Need When the Cupboards Are Bare

“Toward the end of the year last year, the day before we delivered backpacks, a third-grade student mentioned to her teacher that she was hungry because she and her brother and her mother had to share one apple for breakfast that morning, and they were hungry – they were out of food. And the next day I delivered that bag of food to her classroom, and the teacher said that child lit up like a Christmas tree, she was so excited to see that food. That tells you that you’re making a difference right there.” – BackPack Buddies Coordinator

My mom is working but when she gets her check she doesn’t have enough money to buy enough food for all of us. I live with my Mom, Dad, and four brothers and sisters…There have been times when there wasn’t any food or enough food. Then, we ask a lady for some food, and she gives us some. Some nights we don’t have food – I eat breakfast and lunch at school, and that’s it. Most nights we don’t eat dinner, or only some people eat because there’s not enough for everybody.” – BackPack Buddies child recipient

“When asking a 1st grade student what type of food he ate on the weekend, he replied ‘oh… we don’t eat on the weekend.’  When I asked him if he would like to be a ‘BackPack Buddy’ and explained the program to him, he started jumping up and down with an excited look on his face and exclaimed ‘YES, YES, YES!” – BackPack Buddies Coordinator

“I’ve been getting a backpack since half of last year and this year…When I get home with my backpack, I unload it, put the food away, eat a granola bar, drink two juice boxes, and eat the apple…I feel good about getting a BackPack. Since my Mother was fired, we don’t have a lot of money, so that’s pretty much what I eat all weekend. During the rest of the week, I cook up some noodles that I’ve saved from the bag. If I didn’t get a backpack, I would go without eating or eat a can of vegetables. I have gone a day without eating before.” – BackPack Buddies child recipient

Partner Spotlights:PORCH Durham

PORCH-Durham and PORCH Raleigh

PORCH-Durham’s and PORCH Raleigh‘s mission is to support the BackPack Buddies Program in their region. Families buy a few extra items at the grocery store, and once per month they put them in bags on their porches. Then PORCH volunteers come to pick them up, and the food goes to support Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s BackPack Buddies program.

MIX 101.5 WRAL-FM/WRAL-TV BackPack Buddies Mediathon

 A day long community event on TV, radio, the web and your mobile device to raise food and funds for our child hunger programs. The 2016 Mix 101.5 WRAL-FM/WRAL-TV raised over $219,000 and 10,000 lbs of food!

 The Food Drive Kid

 William Winslow (a.k.a “The Food Drive Kid“) has helped raise more than $20,000 and 20,000 pounds of food for the Backpack Buddies program. William is now expanding his work to fight against child hunger by raising money to create an ediable garden to benefit students and families at Ligon Middle School.

Coloring Pages

Coloring in these BackPack Buddies pages is a great way to start a conversation with your child about hunger in our community. This page, with info on childhood hunger in NC, can help you get started.

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