Beaumont, TX – Joyce Harris has found her niche supporting children through the Southeast Texas Food Bank’s BackPack Program. Joyce and other volunteers stuff kid-friendly foods into backpacks that are distributed in our region to ensure kids have enough food to eat in the evenings and on weekends. The backpacks are distributed by local network partners of the Food Bank and in partnership with agencies participating in the Summer Feeding Program. Joyce, a retiree, has been volunteering at Southeast Texas Food Bank since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
With the impacts of a global pandemic, sourcing food has become a daunting exercise. When the Food Bank received a shipment of juice that had been damaged, it wasn’t immediately clear how long it may take to get a replacement. Joyce had seen the volume of backpacks being filled by the Food Bank and knew that something had to be done to keep production rolling. That’s when Joyce shared the story with her husband, Tommy, who decided they were committed to ensuring kids never go hungry. They headed to the local grocery store and secured $300 of natural fruit juice. With their car full, they returned to the Food Bank and delivered enough juice to stuff hundreds more backpacks.
Each school year, 1,700 children participate in the Southeast Texas Food Bank BackPack Program. In summer, historically BackPack Program participation rates increase. The mission of the BackPack Program is to help alleviate child hunger in our eight counties by providing hungry children with nutritious and easy-to-prepare food at times when other resources are not available, such as weekends and school vacations. The program provides backpacks filled with food that is child friendly, nonperishable, and easily-consumed.