Rotary Club of Latrobe
“Food for Thought” Backpack Program
Completes Sixth year of feeding less fortunate elementary school children of the Greater Latrobe School District… Gears up for year seven!
As anticipated, the number of children in need of help from the Rotary Club of Latrobe “Food for Thought” Backpack Program increased for the 2020-2021 school year. Now in its sixth year, the program was established in 2015 to provide food for the weekend to children in kindergarten through sixth grade at all three elementary schools of the Greater Latrobe School District. Last year even with the pandemic, the total number of children benefitting from nutritious food over the weekend grew to approximately 170.
While the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program provide healthy food to eligible children, these same children may not have enough food to eat in their homes over the weekend. Teachers regularly observed children coming to school hungry because they were not getting enough to eat at home on Saturdays and Sundays. Missing meals and experiencing hunger impair children’s development and achievement.
The Rotary Club of Latrobe ”Food for Thought” Backpack Program provides single serving, microwaveable food that can be prepared by the children themselves. For example, lunch and dinner may include items such as Beef-a-Roni, spaghetti or ravioli, mac and cheese, soup, fruit cups, applesauce, and pudding cups. Breakfast items include cereal, muffins, and oatmeal. Included with each meal are a variety of healthy snacks and fruit juices.
Backpacks full of food items are packed on Wednesdays and delivered to the schools for discreet distribution to the children on Friday afternoons. The program ran for 32 weeks of the 2020-2021 school year providing over 5,000 bags of food to those in need. Eligibility for the program is determined by the guidance staff of the three elementary schools.
All of the funds required to run the program are raised through the generosity of the local community. The total cost to operate this program in 2020-2021 was approximately $65,000.00. As we prepare to restart the program for the 2021-2022 school year, plans are in the works to expand to include the less fortunate seventh and eighth grade students attending Latrobe Junior High School. This could add as many as 100 additional kids to the program and increase the budget by $50,000 to well over $100,000.00.
The Latrobe Foundation, a nonprofit community foundation, has partnered with the Rotary Club of Latrobe to establish the Rotary Club of Latrobe Fund to receive tax deductible contributions to support the “Food for Thought” Backpack Program.
Your investment in the program, especially this year, would be greatly appreciated. Checks should be made payable to “The Latrobe Foundation,” P.O. Box 110, Latrobe, PA 15650, and designated to the Rotary Backpack Program.