Robert E. Lee High School plans to offer the BackPack Program, sponsored by the East Texas Food Bank, to students for the 2017-18 school year.
“We have backpack programs in some of the elementary schools and middle schools here in Tyler and I think sometimes we forget that high school students are still in need,” Robert E. Lee teacher Tina Bausinger said.
The school recently administered a student survey to better gauge the need for the program. According to Mrs. Bausinger, many students anonymously admitted they were “food insecure.”
“Studies show socioeconomically challenged students historically score poorly on standardized tests,” she said. “Simply put, if a student is hungry, he’s probably not going to care a great deal about how to write a persuasive essay. It’s hard for me to have a problem like student hunger placed in my line of vision and not try to do something about it.”
The mission of the BackPack Program is to help alleviate child hunger 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 backpacks come filled with nutritious, easy-to-open food that does not require stove-top cooking. Empty backpacks are returned by the students and refilled for the following weekend. The typical backpack contains roughly seven pounds of a variety of foods, including protein and fruit juices, for approximately $4.50.
The program at Lee would begin with 25 students, identified by counselors, and would cost approximately $300 per month to sustain. Individuals or groups may donate or volunteer directly at the Food Bank. Volunteer hours also translate to cash in the account, which goes directly toward feeding Lee students. For more information or to make a donation, please visit https://www.easttexasfoodbank.org/Programs/BackPackProgram.