Grant awarded to Gananda Backpack Program

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Kid-friendly items ready for packing into the Gananda Backpack Program.

Gananda Central School District recently received a $2,100 grant from the Wayne County Community Endowment to help expand its Backpack Program, which supports students whose families may be experiencing food insecurity.

The Gananda Backpack Program is a wellness initiative providing healthy nutritional food to students over weekends. Throughout the 2019-20 school year and summer thus far, the program has distributed over 1,500 bags of food to students. The program serves over 40 students in the district.

“We are expecting to see an increase in the number of students enrolled in the program during the 2020-21 school year, as many families across the area are still trying to get back on their feet due to circumstances caused by COVID-19,” said Sue Theon, social worker and program co-coordinator. “This grant from the Wayne County Community Endowment Fund will help us to immediately support more students in the program.”

Students enrolled in the Backpack Program receive food on Fridays, and items include kid-friendly food that students can eat with little or no preparation while also being light to carry. During the school year, elementary students receive the bags of food in their backpacks at the end of the day to take home, and middle and high school students pick up their bags of food on the way out of the buildings after dismissal.

“The program is free, confidential and optional, and focuses on assisting students who may be food insecure,” said Heather Keenan, teaching assistant and program co-coordinator. “Good nutrition is critical to good health and success at school. Children who don’t get enough to eat often have trouble concentrating.”

The cost to supply one student with backpack food during the school year is $100. The program was made possible this past year with support from the Gananda Education Foundation. Email backpack@gananda.org for information.