This is one of those too-good-to-be-true stories in which we are occasionally lucky to be involved.
Monthly for nearly four years, Navy veteran Tony Ducoin has stopped into the Foodbank’s Boise warehouse to donate $200, always in person and always in cash. He directs that generous donation to a different program each month, including the Backpack Program.
Last month he discovered that the granddaughter of the woman who cleans his house was one of the 2,100 children who receive backpacks filled with weekend food during the school year. So Tony decided to bring the young lady, Amy, to see where her backpack comes from. (Amy’s last name and photo are omitted for privacy reasons.)
Between school lunch on Friday and school breakfast on Monday, thousands of Idaho children are at risk of hunger. In response, the Idaho Foodbank provides 2,100 elementary-age children in more than 150 schools with nourishing food for the weekend through the Backpack Program.
The backpacks are handed out discretely at the end of every school week to children identified by teachers, counselors or other school staff as being at risk of hunger over the weekends.
Amy, who will be in fifth grade, began to get her backpack last school year. She feeds herself on weekends, and she said the backpack – made up of kid-friendly, easy-to-fix but nutritious food – has made it much easier for her.
“I liked everything. I’m a fruit-and-vegetable freak,” she said.
Amy is getting excellent grades, and the Backpack Program will help her keep up her good work.
Studies have shown that food insecurity hurts school performance, results in weight gains and is marked by a decline in social skills, especially among boys.
But the Backpack Program is an expensive one. The food is specially purchased in order to ensure both its nutritional excellence and its kid-friendly composition. Each backpack costs $6.20, which means puts the total cost at more than $450,000.
You can help us support this vital program Friday when radio station MIX 106 holds its second annual Cares for Kids radio-a-thon to raise money for backpacks. Check the Foodbank website for all the details.
Thank you for your support and a special thank-you to Tony Ducoin for his generosity and for bringing this story to our attention.