Pa. (OCTOBER 27, 2016) — A hands-on opportunity in school citizenship
and service for Williamsport Area High School life skills students is
helping to alleviate hunger and improve the educational experience for
some of their peers.
In partnership with the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
, the high school launched a BackPack Program
in September, which provides a bag of nonperishable food at the end of
each week for participating students to take home and eat when school
meal programs are unavailable.
Pennsylvania Food Bank is thrilled to be partnering with the
Williamsport Area School District to provide backpacks," said Jamie
Caputo, the local food bank's development and community relations
director. "One out of five students faces food insecurity in their home.
As studies have shown, children who are food insecure tend to struggle
more with their studies. By providing access to these students, we are
helping them overcome one of the obstacles to their health and
WAHS administrators hope to send 100 backpacks home each week by the end of the school year.
of the key components of the program is having life skills students
handle the delivery of donated food, stock and manage the inventory, and
fill the backpacks ahead of distribution every Friday or before a long
Each bag is typically packed with two
breakfast options, two lunch options, juice boxes, and two snack options
— one can of fruit and one can of vegetables.
of our students not only come to school hungry but also leave our
buildings to later go hungry at home, either for overnight hours, a full
weekend or an extended holiday break," said district social worker
The marriage of the program with the
school's life skills curriculum helps provide an authentic, real-world
experience for those students.
"While they assist
in the manpower needed for the operation of the program, it also teaches
the students the value and importance of citizenship and service at a
concentrated level in their school community," said Dr. Richard Poole,
director of student services.
a partnership opportunity," said Pamela Hicks, the food bank's program
coordinator. "We are on a bold journey to close the meal gap by 2025
and, with the help of community partners, like WAHS, we are confident
that we can bridge the gap of food insecurity."
Head Principal Brandon Pardoe also recognizes the value and significance of the collaboration and its benefit to students.
is a program that will enhance positive school outcomes for our
students, which may lead to better performance on exams and improved
overall health," Pardoe said.