South Dakota’s public schools provide free or reduced meals to children at risk of hunger through the National School Lunch Program. The program effectively combats hunger during the school week, but it does not address the needs of children when school is not in session. This is where Feeding America and Feeding South Dakota fill an important void with the national BackPack Program. This program provides at-risk children with nutritious, easy-to-prepare foods during weekends and holidays when school is not in session. Food is distributed through the schools because of their relationship with students, easy access and safe environments. The Rapid City BackPack Program currently provides more than 1,800 weekend packages of food to at-risk, chronically hungry school children. In addition, Feeding South Dakota distributes more than 3,400 packages of food each week to children in the Sioux Falls school district and 10 surrounding communities. Through this program, more than 5,200 children statewide are given a greater opportunity to learn and grow.

While these programs receive partial funding from local United Way organizations, there is still a significant cost in providing these weekend food packages. A single food package costs $4.50. It costs $150 to feed a child for an entire school year. If you are interested in supporting the BackPack Program, visit our donation page.