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Montgomery Public Schools Backpack Partnership

Backpack Food

Montgomery Public Schools Backpack Partnership - Information for Churches and Organizations Interested in Adopting A School

What is the MPS Backpack Partnership?

The MPS Backpack Partnership is made up of a group of churches, community organizations and concerned citizens who are committed to meeting the needs of Montgomery’s hungry children. Though Montgomery Public Schools provides no cost breakfast and lunch for all students while school is in session and through the Summer Feeding Program, there are still pockets of students who leave for the weekend and go to homes where there is very little to eat. Food insecurity is especially felt during extended holiday breaks.

The backpack program works like this: Each week, church or organization volunteers purchase and pack healthy, nutritious meals or snacks that are delivered to the school on Friday and discreetly placed in a child’s backpack. These meals or snacks provide food that a child can eat over the weekend, or during extended holiday breaks. It is conducted in a way that students do not feel embarrassed in front of their peers. They are given a code word or a subtle announcement is made that lets them know its time to pick up their food bag, which is usually at the end of the school day, as they are leaving the building. As a family’s situation improves, parents can opt-out of the program.

How are children identified?

Montgomery County has a food insecurity rate of about 20.7 percent — that’s about 47,000 people, according to 2017 Feeding America stats. Somewhere in that number it is believed that about 13,000 children in our community are hungry, according to VOICES for Alabama Children. About 76 percent of MPS students qualify for free and reduced lunch. The churches that participate in the program use this information as a baseline of information to determine what the needs are in the school they want to adopt and how many children in a school they are able to provide food to. Churches and organizations rely on teachers, staff, counselors and principals to help refer children who are could benefit from their backpack program. School staff watch for signs like:

 § Stomach growling § Headache § Light-headed feeling § Grumpiness/sadness § Lack of Energy § Shakiness/Weakness § Hoarding food or snacks § Chronic illnesses

Younger children often tell their teacher that they are hungry or that they do not have food at home.

What’s in the Bag?

Each weekend food bag contains enough food for two breakfasts, two lunches, two snacks, and one can of vegetables and one can of fruit. Each program determines what will go in the bag each week. Food varies from program to program. In addition, parents indicate on the Backpack Parent Consent Form if their child is allergic to certain foods. All food in the bags are nonperishable. Here are some suggested items that can go in a food bag:

  • Tuna

  • Individual packs of grits, oatmeal or cereal

  • Cereal bars/multigrain bars

  • Beef stew

  • Chili

  • Chicken soup

  • Ravioli (very popular)

  • Mac & Cheese (very popular)

  • Peanut butter and jelly

  • Canned carrots

  • Green beans

  • Fruits (canned)

  • Boxed fruit juice or milk

  • Crackers

  • Chips

  • Pudding cups

 It’s important that cans and packages fit into a grocery bag or two gallon-size zip lock bag. Large or heavy cans or oversized boxes are difficult for smaller children to carry and conceal in a backpack. Think individual portion sizes that will feed a child over two days--- Saturday and Sunday.

Where do I purchase my food?

Churches and organizations have the option of creating an account at the Montgomery Area Food Bank, purchasing food from a grocery store, or by collecting food donations from members. Each church or organization supports its own programs. Those who wish to donate food or money can make the donation DIRECTLY TO THE CHURCH OR ORGANIZATION. Montgomery Public Schools does not collect food donations or solicit funds for the churches or organizations in the partnership to support their individual backpack food programs. We ask that when you adopt a school that the bags you pack be the same or very similar for each child. This eliminates any confusion among the recipients. Depending on what you choose to purchase, bags can run anywhere from  $3-7 each.

How do I start a backpack program?

Starting a program takes commitment and a strong desire to meet the needs of students who need food assistance. It’s important that you determine how many children you can serve and that you committee to serve a school for one full school year. You can call (334) 223-6735 to connect with a school and find our more information. The backpack partners are also available to offer advice on how to set up your backpack program.

Once a backpack partner determine how many children they can serve, the school will give the parents of the students the Backpack Parent Consent Form, which gives your church or organization permission to provide their child food. The program is voluntary and only those who sincerely want the food assistance are given the food. This minimizes waste and helps us make sure we are actually meeting a family’s need.

Churches and organizations can also use the form to track how many children they will serve our church is serving and foster ongoing, voluntary communication with the parent, if that is desired by the parent. You can also use the optional Backpack Feedback Form (a generic sample is included) to solicit input about your program and how you can make it more effective.

What if my church or organization cannot afford to adopt a school at this time, but still wants to help?

If you are not able to make a full commitment, there are many ways you can help meet the needs of our hungry students. You can:

 • Hold a food drive, then donate the non-perishable food items to one of the partner churches or organizations to support their backpack program

 • Volunteer by helping a church or organization pack and/or deliver the backpacks to the school

 •Make a donation directly to one of the partner churches or organizations that is earmarked for their backpack food program

Montgomery Public Schools Backpack Partnerships

True Divine Baptist Church Community Development, Inc.

Feeding Hands Backpack Program

Schools Served: Brewbaker Primary, Intermediate and Middle

Contact: Pam Williams- (334) 286-4008 Email:


Montgomery “Food for Kids”

Schools Served Davis Elementary, Highland Gardens Elementary (with the Nehemiah Center) and Southlawn Elementary, Catoma Elementary and Dannelly Elementary

Contact: Khristen Carlson- (334) 300-4835 or Facebook


Frazer United Methodist Church

Schools Served: Dozier, Dalraida, Garrett, Seth Johnson Elementary

Contact: Becky VanGilder- (334) 272-8622 Email:


Trinity Presbyterian School Key Club

School Served: Vaughn Road Elementary

Contact: Mike Zavado - (334) 213-2100


Hilliard Chapel AME Zion Church

School Served: Highland Avenue Elementary

Contact: Rev. Catrina Waters- (334) 538-0733


Aldersgate United Methodist Church

School Served: Chisholm Elementary

Contact: Ted Davis -(334) 272-6152 Email:


St. John's Episcopal Church

School Served: Floyd Elementary

Contact: Rebecca Miller- (334) 262-1937 Email:


E.D. Nixon PTA

School Served: E.D. Nixon Elementary

Contact: Dana Williams, Principal (334) 269-3012 Email:


Christ Community Church

School Served: Wares Ferry Road Elementary

Contact: Krissie Womble – (334) 546-4590 Email:


Bethany Seventh Day Adventist

Schools Served: Davis Elementary

Contact: Carletta Abernathy (334) 590-1428/277-7121 Email: or Tonjia R. Cook (334) 819-4949 Email:


Anointed Warrior Hill Church 

School Served: Dunbar Ramer School

Contact: Jackye Pinkard- (334) 531-1406 Email:


Montgomery (AL) Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

School Served: T.S. Morris Elementary and Southlawn Middle

Contact: Cathey Hendricks  Email:


Lanier High School PTSA

School Served: Lanier High

Contact: Katina Jones (334) 233-2369



Holy Comforter Episcopal Church

School Served: Fitzpatrick Elementary

Contact: Nelya McKenzie (334) 284-5078



Adams Drugs- Dalriada Location

School Served: Capitol Heights Middle

Contact: Clare Phung  (334) 300-1728

*Contact the MPS Family and Community Engagement Department if you are interested in learning more about the partnership or adopting a school at (334) 223-6735.



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