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Northcountry community overlooking the lake in the fallNorthcountry community overlooking the lake in the fall

Citizen Advocates’ Backpack Program

If school is in session, then Citizen Advocates’ Backpack Program is once again providing young students with healthy food on the weekends.

The Backpack Program provides eligible children in kindergarten through 6th grade with nutritious food on the weekend throughout the academic year. Sponsored by Citizen Advocates, the main goal of the program is to combat childhood hunger in the North Country.

In addition to providing safety-net services related to developmental disability, mental health and addiction, Citizen Advocates is committed to taking a leadership role for better health in all aspects of life. The Backpack Program is part of our promise to nurture healthy communities by ensuring young students have the energy to engage, focus and grow.

About 3.9 million children in the U.S. live in “food-insecure” households where there is a limited or uncertain amount of nutritionally adequate or safe food. Children are at dramatically higher risk for food insecurity if they live in households where income levels are near or below federal poverty levels, or headed by single parents. In Franklin County, the overall poverty rate is 20.3 percent, and the rate climbs to 29.9 percent for children under the age of 18. Of those families with female heads of household with children present, the poverty rate jumps to 48.8 percent.

The Backpack Program costs about $70,000 annually to operate, and provides upwards of 550 local school-aged children with healthy meal choices on the weekend. All funds raised go directly to the program, which relies entirely on volunteer time for support.

To learn more or to volunteer, contact Joe Riccio at (518) 651-2760.