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BackPack’s Big Change

November 16, 2016 | Blog

Before I started writing this post, I read back over my entries for the last year. We certainly have made a lot of changes in a short time and expanded greatly. I sometimes forget how much has been accomplished, as I simply always want to do more to help those in need. I do realize, though, as the year closes, that I do have to sit back and be proud of what this team has done. When I say “team,” I certainly mean the entire staff here at the Food Bank of Iowa, but I also include all the school staff and community partners who made this happen in each of their communities. Good job!!! I am proud of you.

We have made a major change in how we run the BackPack Program™. I know it was a tough change for a lot of our community partners and they graciously understood the reasoning and were supportive. We are committed to the BackPack Program™. However, due to its unprecedented growth, we had to find ways in which we can be more efficient in operating this program while maintaining the highest level of respect, discretion, and quality. We need to exceed our current capacity of 5,000 children per week in the BackPack Program™, so we found a solution that will allow us to do that. Beginning in January, we will purchase pre-assembled sacks of food. This means a volunteer opportunity in each community that packs is gone, and this is hard. I understand this, and it was a difficult decision. I was introduced to the BackPack Program™ by packing at my church and found the issue of food insecurity one that went straight to my heart and soul. I want others to be touched by this, too, and packing was a great way for them to get involved. However, I also understand that we need to serve more students in more communities, and the only way to do this is to make a change. Thanks to the leadership here at the Food Bank of Iowa for being bold with this decision. Starting in January, we’re adding seven more schools, and serving a total of 5,400 students. We will just keep going and always look for efficiencies that maintain quality.

Did I mention that we will have 20 school pantries starting in January? Yes, that is the correct number—lots of additions in the past two months. We will have new pantries in Northwood, Panora, Truro, Martensdale, Earlham, Humboldt, Marshalltown, and Des Moines. Yep, I am pretty excited about this growth, but I need 10 more schools by the end of the school year to make my goal. I may need some help to get there. Please reach out to me if you are interested in joining this program.

With the awful winter weather, it seems only right that I am thinking about summer—summer feeding that is. I will meet with vendors in early January to make a decision on how we are going to get our food for the summer, and then I will start recruiting sites. I will be at the library in Spencer on January 21st from 1 to 6 p.m. in the Round room to talk about the Summer Food Service Program. If you are in Northwest Iowa and interested in feeding kids this summer, I would love to talk to you. No appointment necessary. If this works well, I will schedule more sessions around the state. Let’s see how big we can get with this program in 2016. I am counting on you to help!

Kate Pauly | Regional Partnership Coordinator

Kate Pauly is the Regional Partnership Coordinator for Region 1, the northwest corner of our service area. She takes a holistic approach to hunger fighting, helping our partners find the best solutions to get food to people in need.

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