The idea of Backpack Meals for Kids originated at a 2011 meeting of a school district, staff, and community volunteers. Staff members explained the growing problem of weekend hunger: students from low-income families were coming to school hungry, tired, and not ready to learn on Monday mornings. It turned out that kids who received free school lunches on weekdays were not receiving enough nutrition on
Community volunteers committed themselves to solve the problem. Beginning with two schools, they began delivering packs of weekend food every Thursday for hungry students.
Every year, the volunteer group added schools and increased the number of food packs. By 2018-19 the volunteers were providing 400-weekend food packs across the district. In addition, Backpack Meals for Kids began serving the district’s 85 preschoolers in the tuition-free Early Education Program.
In 2019-20 those weekly numbers grew to 690 food packs for K-12 and preschool kids as the effects of Covid 19 were felt. Even as schools closed, Backpack Meals for Kids continued to provide 690 food packs weekly through the district’s Family Connections.
Still working in 2020-21 to meet Bellevue children's nutritional needs, Backpack Meals for Kids is a community-based non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers.
Childhood hunger is a fact of life in Bellevue. One in five students in the Bellevue School District qualifies for free and reduced-price meals at school. For some of these kids, school meals represent the bulk of their weekly nutrition.