The Backpack Buddies program provides a weekend’s worth of nutritional food to Midland County elementary and preschool school children who meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches
- Live in a household with a Food Stamp FIP case number
- Live in a household qualifying or WIC assistance
How it works: Each Friday during the school day, enrolled students receive a plastic grocery bag filled with food items. The food is provided through a program in partnership with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. Food items include healthy, easy-to-prepare food for kid-friendly meals, and Midland County EFPN also provides a fresh fruit item each month.
Since 2021, the program has been extended preschool and head start programs. Approximately 600 children took part in the program for the 2021-2022 school year, and the cost of this program for the 2021-2022 school year was approximately $110.00 per student. This program is overseen by EFPN volunteers with the help and coordination of countless people in the Midland County School systems, as well as volunteers outside of the school system, who help keep this program operating. Many recipient families have remarked how much they appreciate this additional food for the weekend.
EFPN continues to look for ways to expand the program to reach more children in need.