Written by Alanna Mallon
The Cambridge Weekend Backpack program (CWBP) is gearing up for it’s second full year and is looking to expand! CWBP provides weekend food for Cambridge Public Schools students and their siblings whose primary source of nutrition is the school cafeteria. These are students who might otherwise go without adequate nutrition over the weekend. The 5 lb. bag of food, which is sent home discreetly in the student’s backpacks, contains two breakfasts, two lunches, nutritional snacks, milk and fresh fruit. These meals ensure that all students are ready to learn on Monday mornings!
The program was founded in the Winter of 2013 as a pilot program in one Cambridge Public School with 15 participants. The pilot program was generously funded by the Cambridge Health Alliance pediatricians and the parent led non-profit at the pilot school. With incredible community and local business support, the program was rapidly expanded to include 7 schools and 150 participants in the school year 2013/14. This year the founder and local mom, Alanna Mallon, hopes to further expand the program and reach many more children who will greatly benefit from the food safety net that the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program food provides.
The teachers and administrators in the schools that the program operates in are thrilled with the support that the program provides and many have commented that the extra food not only combats food insecurity, but that it is having a very positive impact on student achievement. Students are much better able to engage in learning and thrive academically, as they aren’t hungry or worried about where their next meal is coming from. The program has helped with absenteeism as well; when you are well fed, you are less prone to getting sick. Additionally, the program has served as a family engagement tool with many families expressing that they now feel like their family is being taken care of by their school community.
For more information on the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program, please find their website here, or follow us on twitter and facebook. You can also email the founder, Alanna Mallon, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate, please send a check to:
Friends of Tobin
197 Vassal Lane
Cambridge, MA 02138
attn: Weekend Backpack Program