On December 18, 2020, the Radiant Weekend Backpack Program began thanks to local contributors such as Radiant Lighthouse Church and Hydrojet Signs & Fabricating, who provided backpacks for each student involved.
These resources provide a weekend supply of nutritious and easy to prepare food free of charge to help children whose families may find it difficult to have enough food and not have access to meals at school. All Kindergarten through eighth-grade students is eligible.
Each student has their own backpack with a nametag and teacher’s name on the tag. Every Thursday after school, the cafeteria staff and various clubs, sports teams, cheerleaders, teachers, staff, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes volunteer to fill the backpacks. On Friday afternoons, the cafeteria staff distributes the backpacks to the appropriate classrooms, and the kids take them home for the weekend. Many of our virtual students also participate in the program and pick up their backpacks in the school office on Friday afternoons. They return the backpacks the following week, and the backpacks are wiped down and are ready for the next week. The volunteers love helping and realize what a wonderful gift this is for our students and families.
Currently, we have 105 students that receive a weekend backpack. Several of our younger students ask, “Is it black backpack day”? They look forward to receiving their own food. Most of them are very responsible and return their backpacks each week. If they happen to forget, we provide a plastic bag for them to take food home.
Covid-19 has affected children in many different ways, from their social-emotional health to nutrition. The backpack program is a valuable resource for solving food insecurity and hunger. It provides a sense of stability which in turn improves behavior and more focus in the classroom. Our school administrators and foodservice professionals stepped up immediately to make sure our students were fed and, with the help of No Kid Hungry, continue to do so. We have only heard positive comments and thanks from students and parents. A 3rd-grade girl told her teacher, “Sometimes, on Sundays, I’m so hungry I eat things from the backpack that really aren’t even my favorites.” The kid’s honesty is the best!