The BackPack Program

What is the BackPack Program?

Central California Food Bank’s BackPack Program provides nutritious food to children experiencing chronic hunger, discreetly, within the safe environment of their elementary school or afterschool organization. The goal of the BackPack Program is to help solve child hunger by providing easy-to-prepare foods for children to enjoy over weekends and school breaks when resources, like the National School Lunch Program, are not available. School staff pre-identify and enroll students that exhibit signs of chronic hunger to ensure at-risk students are connected with food relief. At the end of the school year, CCFB will survey school staff to determine the impact of this program on student performance. Each month, school staff have an opportunity to provide feedback about the program.

What foods are included & how often do kids receive food?

Backpacks are distributed, at minimum, once a month and consist of kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare, non-perishable foods. Backpack items include microwavable rice bowls, canned fruits and vegetables, multigrain cereal, 1% milk, 100% juice, canned chicken and canned tuna, peanut butter, granola bars, and so much more! Our team curates two menus each month, which are reviewed by our in-house Registered Dietitian, to ensure each food group is represented and that backpacks include a variety of items that help meet child nutrition recommendations.

How many children do we reach through the Backpack Program?

Fall 2021 – Spring 2022, CCFB provided 2,500 students each month with BackPacks in our fight against child hunger. Over the school year, we distributed 19,050 backpacks at 12 schools in our five-county service area, providing over 163,300 lbs. of food to students in Fresno, Madera, and Tulare counties.

The School Pantry Program

What is the School Pantry Program?

Central California Food Bank’s School Pantry Program provides families with an opportunity to conveniently access food from the safe and familiar environment of their children’s school. We design each school pantry with both space and staffing in mind, offering various levels of neighbor choice at each site. Schools can offer no choice, or a drive through distribution of preassembled boxes, limited choice, such as a tabling of multiple preassembled boxes families choose between, or a full choice model, which is a physical pantry space with shelves containing items families browse through and bring home.

What foods are included & how often can families access food?

Due to the varying level of choice offered and at each school site, the available items will be as unique as the school site! For sites that offer “no choice,” the preassembled box provided weighs approximately 24 lbs. and creates twenty meals. We create new menus each month that may include oatmeal or cereal, shelf stable milk, multiple canned fruits and vegetables, skillet dinners, rice, beans, masa corn flour, canned chicken, pasta, and pasta sauce. “Limited choice” sites offer three different menus for families to look over and choose between. To dignify distributions and limit food waste, schools offering “full choice” will use CCFB’s online menu to order items. A few sites also distribute fresh eggs, fresh corn tortillas, fresh cheese, and fresh produce, dependent on funding. Most sites are open once per month.

How many children do we reach through the School Pantry Program?

We distribute over 2,900 boxes each month to families between our school partners. Fall 2021 – Spring 2022, we distributed over 433,278 lbs. between nineteen schools in our five-county service area, providing convenient food access to over 35,523 individuals and 17,534 children in Fresno and Tulare counties.