• kidsaid 0000 Vector Smart Object The Backpack Program

Alleviating weekend hunger so that children arrive at school only hungry to learn.

The Backpack Program bridges the weekend hunger gap for children, and Kids Aid works diligently to remove all barriers to participation. Children do not have to travel to access food because volunteers bring the food directly to children at their home, school, or designated summer neighborhood sites. Neither children nor their parents are required to fill out a form to sign up to receive food—if a child indicates that they need food, they get a bag.

Menu selection, packing and distribution

Every week, Kids Aid reviews the food that is available at Food Bank of the Rockies and designs a menu using available food that has high nutritional content. Care is also taken to select age-appropriate food that children can prepare themselves and will not make the bag too heavy for children to carry.

Kids Aid typically distributes nine to 10 items in each biodegradable bag—two to three dinner items, two lunch items, two breakfast items and three snacks. The items are matched so children can easily prepare meals (e.g., canned chicken is paired with refried beans and tortillas to make burritos.) Also, to ensure that children who cannot access food at Kids Aid’s primary sites do not go hungry, Kids Aid delivers food to community agencies in strategic locations throughout Grand Junction. Some volunteers deliver food directly to children’s homes if they know that transportation is a barrier to accessing food.

Every Wednesday and Thursday, volunteers come to the warehouse and prepare the orders that will be distributed that week. Site liaisons tell Kids Aid how many bags of food they need each week and share any unique circumstances or needed adjustments (e.g. if a site will be closed on their normal delivery day.) Sites are responsible for discretely distributing the food to students, so no child feels shame for taking it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who we serve?

There are no qualifications for children and youth to use The Backpack Program. If you are a hungry kid, we will feed you; no questions asked.

How to sign up?

Simply contact the site and ask for The Backpack Program Coordinator/Liaison or talk to the child’s teacher or front office staff. That’s it!

Who can enroll a kid?

Anyone can request a food bag for a child or youth. i.e., Parents, caregivers, teachers, school staff, doctors, etc.

Who will know that I get a bag?

Because Kids Aid doesn’t ask for names, only total number of bags needed per site, The Backpack Program Coordinator/Liaison at your site will likely be the only person who knows, and we ask them to distribute bags very discreetly.

Where do we deliver?

We delivery all throughout Mesa County, Colorado—including every school in Mesa County Valley School District 51, Colorado Mesa University, Gateway, Plateau Valley, Debeque, preschools, day care centers, alternative schools, K-12 schools, homeschools, private schools, summer programs, community centers, and local nonprofit agencies. Please contact us if you would like to bring The Backpack Program to your location. We’re always looking for new community partners.

When do we deliver?

Volunteers deliver bags to Mesa County Valley School District 51 schools and sites by Friday morning or the day before an extended weekend. See our calendar for distribution dates.

What time of year are bags available?

The Backpack Program is available almost all year.

  • Bags of food are distributed weekly beginning the second week of school and throughout the school year. Bags that are distributed before long breaks include extra food items to help students get through the extended breaks without hunger.
  • Over the summer, Kids Aid follows SD51’s Lunch Lizard program routes and distributes our bags of food on Fridays so kids can eat over the weekends through the summers as well. Kids Aid also partners with school liaisons over the summer who deliver Kids Aid’s food bags to children’s homes if they are unable to get to a Lunch Lizard stop.
  • We do not provide bags over extended breaks (e.g. winter break, spring break)
What’s in the bags?
  • In a typical bag there are 2-3 dinner items, 2 lunch items, 2 breakfast items, and 3 snack items. Some foods you might find in your bag:
    • Canned pastas with meat: ravioli or spaghetti, canned protein: tuna or chicken, canned beans, Fruit: applesauce, fruit purees, fruit cups, canned fruits, raisins, dehydrated fruits, instant oatmeal, cereal, granola and/or cereal bars, macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, trail mix, jerky, crackers, cookies, fresh apples (pending availability)
  • Important notes about bag distribution
    • *Children must pick up the food. No food bags will be distributed to adults.
    • **One bag per child per week.
How do we choose the menu?

Availability of menu items, cost, weight, and nutritional values are considered when preparing our weekly menus.