RSHS Students Seek Donations for BackPack Food Program

RSHS Students Seek Donations for BackPack Food Program

Rock Springs High School seniors and Health Academy students Brenalee Franklin and Easton Kopp show off what food they have so far for The Giving Back Program. Courtesy photo

ROCK SPRINGS — With schools already being in session for a month now, The Giving Back Program is in desperate need of donations to get the program going this year.

This year Rock Springs High School seniors and Health Academy students Brenalee Franklin and Easton Kopp are leading The Giving Back Program, also referred to as the backpack program, and are excited to see the program in action. Kopp is the president of the group, while Franklin is the vice president and they act as facilitators for the rest of the volunteers. Each year, the program is passed down to new incoming seniors.

According to Franklin, the idea for the backpack program started back in 2013 when it was introduced to the Sweetwater County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees. It was then implemented in 2014. This particular program is designed to provide children with food insecurities with three meals each day over the weekend.

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While Kopp and Franklin do not know how many students will be participating in the program this year, they do know they can expect a lot. Each year 45 applications are sent to the elementary schools located in Rock Springs. According to Kopp, they usually receive half of those applications back.

With seven elementary schools in town, even if they only received half of the applications back, that’s around 160 children.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Department of Agriculture provided free meals to all schools across the United States. However, this year that program ended and parents are going back to pre-pandemic procedures and applying for free and reduced meals.

Kopp said because the school district isn’t offering free meals anymore he expects the amount of children needing the backpack program will increase.

All of the food for The Giving Back Program is stored here at the Rock Springs Satellite High School. Courtesy photo

How The Program Works

Once all of the applications have been returned, the student is added to the backpack program. Most of the children in the program have been referred by the school counselor, secretary, teacher, or principal. They may not even be on the free and reduced lunch program, but still have food insecurities.

All of the food is purchased at Smith’s and is stored in a room at the Rock Springs Satellite High School. On Tuesdays, the backpack program volunteers stop by all of the elementary schools and pick up the names on the list and the crates to put food in. They then package all of the food in Smith’s bags. There is enough food for three breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Children also receive snacks and a drink.

Some of the items handed out to students include breakfast bars, instant oatmeal, Mac and Cheese, Ramen Noodles, canned vegetables and fruit, beefaroni, cheese sticks and rice. They try to keep the meals as nutritious as possible, but easy for the kids to make themselves.

Once the bags are assembled, they are placed in the crates, which are taken to the schools on Thursday. At the end of that day, the student on the list receives the bag filled with food and places it in their backpack.

“One thing that we are really adamant about is confidentiality, ” Kopp said.

While the group has enough money to purchase the food for the first month, there’s already concern about not having the funds to keep the program going. Franklin said due to the increase in the price of groceries it will take more money to purchase the same amount of items as last year. They are expecting to need $15,000 for the year or roughly $1,000 per food purchase.

Franklin said they have received monetary donations from local businesses, but know they will need a lot more donations to keep the program running. Any business owners interested in helping out with this program can contact the Rock Springs Satellite School’s Health Academy.