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Backpack program continues to feed students over winter break

Gloria Ho backpack program
Food Bank of Delaware
Gloria Ho coordinates the backpack program for students at Milton Elementary School.

For some kids, the breakfast and lunch they get at school are their only meals.

But that doesn’t mean they go hungry over the holiday break.

That’s where the “backpack program” comes in.

Before every weekend and holiday, the Food Bank of Delaware delivers bags of food to schools - where

Food bank volunteers
Food Bank of Delaware
Volunteers at the Food Bank of Delaware pack bags of food to distribute to schools.

they are discreetly deposited in the backpacks of nearly 4,000 students.

“It’s neat to hear them come back and say I shared it with my little sister or little brother at home,” said Gloria Ho, who coordinates the program for students at Milton Elementary School in Sussex County. “I knew it was very important for a lot of our kids because when they go home for like early dismissal or for a long break, they remind you, hey, can I get my backpack food.”

The Food Bank says one in six children in Delaware is food insecure. They say, for many kids, the program reduces health problems, helps improve school performance, and makes parents more aware of the resources available.

Ho says she likes the program because there’s no red tape. She says parents don’t have to do anything to qualify except sign a permission form.

“A lot of our parents that utilize the backpack program are ones that not only work, they work very hard, sometimes more than one job,” she said, adding that they often have to prioritize other expenses like child care, rent, and the rising cost of groceries.

Every weekend bag contains at least two breakfasts, two lunches and snacks. Ho said students can get extra before long breaks like the one between Christmas and New Year’s.