Good Day Gives Back: Good Shepherd Food Bank BackPack Program

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AUBURN (WGME) -- One in four Maine kids are not getting the nutritious food they need, according to the Good Shepherd Food Bank. That's why the Maine non-profit has several programs to try to fight childhood hunger in the schools and outside of the classroom.

The BackPack program ensures kids have enough healthy food when the school week is over. "We send bags packed with nutritious foods to the schools and they distribute those bags to kids every Friday," said Clara Whitney, the Director of Public Affairs at the Good Shepherd Food Bank. "So when they go home on the weekends, they have enough food to get them through until they come back to school Monday morning."

Each bag has healthy food items including ingredients for easy-to-prepare meals and snacks for the weekend. The Good Shepherd Food Bank relies on monetary donations to purchase specific food for the program. Volunteers come to Good Shepherd Food Bank warehouse in Auburn to stuff bags every week. They are then delivered to the schools, where teachers and counselors discreetly place them into students' backpacks.

The Good Shepherd Food Bank partners with 100 schools all over the state. There are 45 BackPack Programs and 65 Food Pantries. The Good Shepherd Food Bank just opened five new school pantries in Washington County. "There isn't a community across Maine that doesn't have a problem with hunger," said Whitney. The BackPack program tends to work better for younger kids; the food pantries are more effective in middle and high schools.

The Good Shepherd Food Bank is a non-profit that distributes 23 million pounds of food each year.
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