Hunger And Health Coalition Expands Backpack Program (2018-11-14 16:19:41)

The Hunger and Health Coalition has recently expanded its Backpack Program to include five additional elementary schools in order to help fight childhood hunger in Watauga County.

In Watauga, one in five children do not know where their next meal will come from.

Local schools and area nonprofits have come together to help ensure that Watauga County students have access to the essential nutrition they need to thrive and learn.

Designed as a supplemental nutrition program to protect children against the consequences of hunger, the BackPack Program provides participating children with nutritious meals to take home each weekend during the school year.

The menu rotates and always includes two servings of grains, three servings of fruit, two servings of protein, two servings of milk and one serving of vegetables.

The program in Watauga County is a collaborative effort of the Hunger and Health Coalition, Watauga County Schools and Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC.

“The Backpack Program is a literal lifesaver for our students who may be home alone over the weekend, or need supplemental items to carry them through a weekend with little food in the house,” said Hardin Park Social Worker Denise Presnell. “It helps them return to school on Monday with their nutritional needs met and ready to learn.”

“We know that when students go to bed hungry and then come to school hungry, they are not able to focus in the classroom and that this can have long term implications in their lives,” said Elizabeth Young, Executive Director for the Hunger and Health Coalition. “In Watauga County, 24 percent of our residents live in poverty and 48 percent of residents are considered as having low income by federal standards. That’s a startling indicator of just how tough things still are for many Watauga County families. In collaboration with local schools, through the BackPack Program, we strive to ensure that all children have the meals and essential nutrition they need to achieve their full academic potential.”

“We have continued to see the need increase for these programs and we ask for your support in ensuring that we can continue to keep up with the demand,” Young said. “There are many ways to get involved, from volunteering your time, to helping to deliver Backpacks, to making a financial contribution. Watauga County is an incredible community where neighbors can make a real difference for their neighbors in need”.

For information or to volunteer, visit or call (828) 262-1628.