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Food for backpack program on wire racksColumbia High School launched a new backpack program at the end of January that will help fight hunger by providing six students with bags full of food every Friday – for free.

The school has partnered with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York to supply students identified by school staff as susceptible to hunger with breakfast and lunch on weekends. Each student will be given a bag full of food every Friday, which is meant to fill the gap of students not being at school to receive their free breakfast and lunch.

Peanut butter, jelly and tuna fish on wire racksThe first round of backpacks were stuffed with bread, peanut butter, jelly, oatmeal, juice boxes, water, applesauce and snacks.

“It is a great opportunity we have to fill the gap in providing food during the weekend,” said School Social Worker Lois Rondeau who is coordinating the program. “Students don’t have to worry when they leave the building on Friday if they will have enough to eat on weekends and parents will have some supplemental food for the household.”

The program has been funded through a $7,500 grant from Hannaford.

Because of the partnership with the Regional Food Bank, Columbia can efficiently provide food to a small number of students who really need it. It costs approximately $6.10 to provide each student in the Backpack Program with breakfast and lunch over the weekend.

“Children already have so many challenges in school, having too little food should not be one of them,” said Principal Michael Harkin. “This program allows us to support them so they can focus on being students.”

If you would like to donate to the Backpack Program, please visit the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York website, select “BackPack Program” from the drop down menu and indicate the gift should be dedicated to “Columbia High School.” You can also donate by check to Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York at 965 Albany-Shaker Road, Latham, New York 12110. Please write “BackPack Program – Columbia High School” in the memo line.