“Backpack Pals” child nutrition program receives $25,000 grant

Children in Montgomery County’s Backpack Pals Program will benefit from a grant awarded by the Walmart Foundation. Communities in Schools (“CIS”) Executive Director Lynn Epps said the organization received $25,000 from the foundation on Apr. 21, which will allow the program to expand to serve 300 students next year.

130611_Communities_In_Schools_Montgomery_CountyAccording to CIS, “The Backpack Pals program is designed to meet the needs of hungry children … who have little to eat over the weekend.”

Students are identified by school staff, who seek permission from families for their participation. Bags of food are packed by community volunteers and given to students to take home on Fridays.

The program is also supported by Montgomery County Churches in Action and the local school system.

Data from CIS shows more than three-quarters of Montgomery County students are in the free or reduced-cost lunch program, suggesting a sizable need for supplemental nutrition among a large number of students.

CIS says the program has a positive impact on education. Of 180 children served in a recent year, CIS says 86% increased their grade point average, 85% met their school attendance goals, and 100% were promoted to the next grade level.

Lynn Epps said the contribution came from Walmart’s State Giving grant. Walmart awards the grants to selected applicants in an annual nationwide grant-making cycle.

More information about Backpack Pals and the other work of Communities in Schools is available online at http://www.cismontgomery.org.

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