The Backpack Program
Ten-year-old Kitiana and her six-year-old brother Thomas live with their grandma. Their grandmother used to work but had to stop after adopting her grandchildren. Kitiana and her brother take food home every week through the BackPack program.
“My favorite thing in the BackPack is the spaghetti and chocolate milk,” Kitiana says. “It makes me feel fantastic to bring the BackPack home!”
Kitiana says it helps her family because her grandmother sometimes gets sick and can’t cook a lot of food. So she has the children grab something from their backpacks to help. Kitiana is also happy they have the backpack program because she knows it could prevent her from not having enough food—because she’s gone hungry in the past.
“When I was really young I walked in the kitchen thinking, ‘what’s for breakfast?’ But there was nothing in the cabinets, and I thought, ‘oh no.’ My mother caught me digging in the cabinets and said, ‘Sorry, we don’t have anything for breakfast, lunch or dinner today.’ So we just snacked a little. It made me feel so hungry. It felt pretty bad.”
“It makes me feel good to have the BackPack because I know that’s not going to happen again,” continues Kitiana. “It makes me feel very grateful.”
“I start thinking sometimes I’m glad this is here [the BackPack program] because we have enough now but on day we could run out of money and run out of food but at least we’ll have things from our bags.”
Dear Friend of the Foodbank,
We hope you took some time this summer to rest and recharge. You certainly deserve it. All of us at the Foodbank are humbled by the outpouring of support received from the community in response to the closing of local Farm Fresh stores.
As you may know, Farm Fresh was a generous donor to the Foodbank, regularly giving gifts of food and funds. Their closing means the Foodbank lost approximately 312,000 meals this summer alone. We anticipate that the overall loss for this upcoming year will be over 1.5 million meals donated to and distributed by our Foodbank. And, the store closings have created food deserts—an area classified as low-income and more than a mile from a grocery store—in many neighborhoods. This has resulted in more individuals showing up for food assistance at the Foodbank and our more than 250 partner agencies.
And, the increased need does not stop there. It is with heavy hearts that we have made the difficult decision to cut 500 children from our BackPack Program this school year due to the loss of Farm Fresh’s financial support and uncertainty in the philanthropic community. We’re working hard to close the meal gap—the difference between the need in our area and what the Foodbank is able to provide. We will continue this work with your sustained contributions of funds, food, time, and voice.
We know you’re just as concerned as we are about the children, veterans, families, and individuals in our area who may not know where they will get their next meal. Please consider putting that compassion into action by making a donation today. Every single gift makes a difference, and we simply cannot do our important work without you. Together, we can end hunger.
Ruth Jones Nichols, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer
Paul G. Finch
President, Board of Directors
Bringing Communities Together, One Mobile Pantry at a Time
I am the Foodbank’s Western Regional Outreach Coordinator, which means that my focus area is in the western portion of the Foodbank’s service area Portsmouth, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Franklin, Southampton, and Sussex.
While I spend a lot of my time developing relationships with food pantries, soup kitchens, and community organizations in Western Tidewater, I am also the Foodbank’s lead for the Mobile Pantry program. This program was developed to bring healthy and nutritious foods to those who may not have access to them because they live in a food desert—meaning that there is not a grocery store located nearby. We have upwards of 20 mobile pantries per month—and you are a big part of making them possible!
I have seen firsthand why this program is so important as many families depend on these distributions of fresh produce and lean proteins each month. During a recent mobile distribution, I was speaking with a woman while she was waiting in line for her food. She thanked me for the food we were able to provide and told me how hard it has become for her to get healthy food for her family. She has only been able to find part-time work and buying fresh produce can be too costly for her, so she often goes without. The food we are able to provide her each month helps ensure that her family is able to have healthy, nutritious meals.
These mobile pantries do more than distribute healthy and nutritious foods to the community; they build community! At a recent mobile pantry in Franklin, a couple approached me asking if they could help. They told me they had driven by the pantry several times and were amazed by the work and wanted to be a part of it. After a few minutes, I learned they lived in the community and had been looking for a way to give back. They were excited to learn about the program and see all of the fresh food we were able to give out. By the end of the distribution, they had become friends with other volunteers and even some clients. While there, they were also able to learn about some of the local food pantries and have begun to refer clients to them as well. They told me they had learned so much from helping and could not wait for the next month to volunteer again.
If you are interested in volunteering or sponsoring one of our mobile pantries, please let me know!
Don’t Miss Your Chance to Be a Part of Taste of Hampton Roads
We hope you’re hungry, because Taste of Hampton Roads is back this Fall with three distinct “culinary crawls,” giving you the opportunity to sample your way through the culinary scenes of Olde Towne Portsmouth (September 29th), Downtown Norfolk (October 6th), and Town Center of Virginia Beach (October 21st), all while supporting the mission of the Foodbank to eliminate hunger.
HOW IT WORKS:
Each crawl will last three hours, giving you the opportunity to wander from eatery to eatery at your own pace, sampling taste-sized portions of each restaurant’s most memorable and mouthwatering dishes.
Tickets are available for purchase online for just $35 per person, per city. The ticket price includes food samples at all participating restaurants in that city. By purchasing a ticket you help provide 100 meals for children, families, adults, and seniors struggling with hunger in our community. Last year was a blast and we expect this year to be even bigger and better. We hope to see you there! For more information visit foodbankonline.org/taste-events.
2018 is an election year and the most important thing that you can do is vote! We need your voice and your action to advocate for legislation and policy that promote long-term solutions to hunger and food insecurity.
First, if you haven’t registered to vote, you may go to www.usa.gov/how-to-vote to get registered, learn how to vote, and explore the requirements. There is even a tool that can help voters decide who to vote for.
Next, share your position with lawmakers who serve your district. Most lawmakers need to know their voters’ position on issues before taking a firm stand. Call, e-mail, and write letters to your members of Congress. Social media, particularly, Twitter, has become an effective communications channel to D.C. It can be a powerful and inexpensive tool to get your
We urge you to take advantage of the energy of this election season. Raise your voice and vote for candidates that support the protection and expansion of federal nutrition programs to ensure that families do not go hungry.