Shirley Anderson, BoCo Backpack Food Program

(“A Food Supplement Program in Boundary County for Children in Need”)



Shirley Anderson, one of the organizers in the BoCo Backpack Program, provided a brief history of the concept.  A community based team of parents and supportive citizens, the program originated at Trinity Lutheran Church (TLC) in Bonners Ferry where members prepare and deliver backpacks of food each week for the student’s weekend consumption.  It was determined that the program would be piloted at the 126-student Naples School where 76 percent of the student body qualified for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch at school during the week.  The staff selected 31 participants from applications sent home with the children who were eligible.

The program has recently partnered with Second Harvest of Spokane because of the ability to obtain price breaks for buying food in quantity and was able to obtain more food.  At a cost of $6.30/packet of food, it is anticipated that the cost will drop to $6.05/packet next year.  Second Harvest brings the food to Sagle where it is picked up by BoCo volunteers and stored.  Selected by registered dietitians and using appropriate nutritional research, the backpack consists of seven pounds of food, enough for 3 meals 3 times a day for 3 days.  The food does not require refrigeration.  The backpack is sent home with the student at the conclusion of the school week on Thursday and brought back on Monday morning. 



Wilma DeVore, Shirley Anderson


Funding is available through August 2012 with grants expected to fund the new school year beginning September 2012.  The program anticipates reaching Mt. Hall Elementary and eventually expanding to Valley View Elementary School, although the cost at Valley View is expected to be approximately $20,000 because of the larger number of students that would be eligible.  Feedback from the staff at Naples has been optimistic with improvements noted in the nutritional status of the children that ultimately results in improved analytical abilities, improved grades and enhanced behavior.

Shirley noted that individual and organization contributions of money and volunteers are always welcome.  An individual or organization could also sponsor a child for a month or for a school year.  The Bonners Ferry Rotary Club had earlier donated funds to the program that allowed the organization to purchase the backpacks.  An additional request for funding has been submitted to the board of directors to be considered at their January meeting.