GREAT FALLS – For eight years, the Great Falls Community Food Bank has served the Backpacks4Kids program.
At the beginning of the year, the Food Bank was only able to supply seven Title 1 elementary schools with food sacks until about a month ago.
Now, the food bank serves all 11 schools in the district.
The program takes over 600 bags of food and discretely places them in the children’s backpacks or cubbies each Friday.
Inside the bags are two entrees, cereal, chocolate milk, juice, and snacks so each child is ensured to have food on weekends.
“Most of these children, they are being fed at school, breakfast and lunch, and when it comes to weekends, the teachers were noticing on late Friday that the kids were particularly acting out and acting unruly because they were worried about the weekend,” Shaun Tatarka, executive director of the Food Bank, said.
Tatarka said the community has supported this program since they started and it’s heart-warming to hear how they’ve made a difference in these children’s lives.
“It’s so gratifying and to hear the stories that the counselors and the teachers tell us on how much we’re making a difference, it really is, it’s very heartening for all of us. It’s just wonderful.”
The program is available at Lincoln, Longfellow, Roosevelt, Sunnyside, Valley View, Whittier, West, Lewis and Clark, Morningside, Chief Joseph, and Mountain View Elementary School.
If you would like to donate to the program, the Community Food Bank is taking monetary donations.
This allows the Food Bank to give each child the same selection of food.
For those looking to donate non-perishable canned food, Tatarka said those help other agencies in Great Falls.
Reporting by Kaley Collins for MTN News