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News · February 15, 2013


In February, qualifying students at Hoover Elementary, whose parents have agreed, will receive a backpack of healthy, kid-friendly food each Friday to take home for the weekend.


The goal of the program is to provide shelf-stable items including meals and snacks that are easily prepared by children with working parents and/or an extra source of food for “food-insecure” households.

Enrollment in the free and reduced-lunch program has increased in recent years, according to Elementary Principal Jess Burger.

Jan Pieper, director of the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program Food Reservoir reports that one in five elementary school children in this area go to bed hungry at least once a week.

Children perform better in school when they eat three balanced meals a day. Operation Backpack helps ensure that these kids have access to food that will allow them to become healthier, more focused and alert, have increased attendance, and be more eager to learn.

Volunteers will transport the food from the HACAP Food Reservoir in Hiawatha to store at the West Branch United Methodist Church. Every week, volunteers will pack the food and distribute it discreetly to pupils on Friday afternoons.

Enrollment in the free program is being handled by Burger and elementary counselor Jan Phelps. West Branch United Methodist Church member Barb Wilcox is organizing the transportation, storage and packing of the food for weekly distribution.

Those interested in volunteering or donating may contact Wilcox at 319-643-5609.

To feed one child for the entire school year is $200 dollars or for one week is approximately $6.

Operation BackPack began in 2008 as a collaboration between Hawkeye Area Community Action Program and some eastern Iowa schools. By 2011, HACAP’s Operation BackPack had distributed 2 million pounds of food within its seven county service area through Operation BackPack. Visit www.hacap.org for additional details.

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