A group of children walk to their school buses on a Friday afternoon wearing backpacks – not an unusual sight. But what is inside those backpacks is indeed special: enough healthy food to sustain the youngsters through the weekend.
Duanesburg schools are again participating in the Weekend Backpack Supplemental Food Program, helping local children eat well when the cafeteria is closed. Backpack contents include a card for a gallon of milk, a card for eggs, fresh fruit, bread, canned vegetables and fruit, a healthy entrée, snacks and breakfast items.
The Weekend Backpack Program is offered in partnership with the Schenectady Foundation, in collaboration with the Duanesburg Presbyterian Church, City Mission, Regional Food Bank, MVP Health Care and SEFCU. Launched in 2014, the program now serves more than 1,200 children attending Schenectady County schools including Duanesburg, Mohonasen, Schalmont and Scotia-Glenville. During 2017-18, more than 59,500 backpacks – 352,069 pounds – of food were delivered to children and their families.
More than 5,000 Schenectady County children have been identified as food insecure by the New York State Education Department. According to the Schenectady Foundation, “Food insecurity is a serious issue in our local communities [where] many children lack access to food over the weekend. As a result, malnutrition and insecurity impacts school performance. This is not only true in urban areas, but is of increasing concern in surrounding suburbs and rural communities. In 2017, the number of students qualifying for the federal free or reduced price school meals program increased by 12 percent from 2010.”
How you can help
The Weekend Backpack program is successful thanks in part to the generosity of local families, businesses, community members and DCS faculty and staff, many of whom donate through payroll deduction. One-hundred percent of donations go toward ending food insecurity in Schenectady County.
To donate, visit https://www.schenectadyfoundation.org/giving-form/weekend-backpack-giving-3.html. An option is provided on where to direct one’s donation, including Duanesburg Central Schools. Donations also may be sent to Weekend Backpack Fund, c/o The Schenectady Foundation, 376 Broadway (2nd Floor), Schenectady NY 12305.
Volunteers are also needed at the City Mission to help fill backpacks every week. Visit their website at https://citymissionofschenectady.volunteerhub.com/ ; email Volunteer@citymission.com, or call (518) 346-2275, ext. 311.