Bill’s Backpacks Story
THE PROBLEM: Over 70% of students in Levelland ISD are on free or reduced lunch. LISD has made the investment to ensure these students have meal options, including a free breakfast and lunch. ABC students are provided a snack in the afternoon and if they participate in after-school ACE, they receive another snack. A hot meal after school is provided at four of our campuses. So that covers our students Monday through Friday, but what about the weekends? Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry. Hungry kids can lead to classroom disruptions and tend to suffer from absenteeism due to illness. If children are showing up in our classrooms hungry through no fault of their own, how can they be expected to overcome those hurdles?
THE SOLUTION: In steps Tracy Barker. In 2010 her brother, who was the strongest person she knew, committed suicide. Tracy was drowning in grief and searching for something positive to come from this terrible tragedy. One night she was watching TV and the news was covering the Lubbock weekend snack program. It occurred to her that this could be her solution. Bill was always the champion of the underdog. Tracy asked her lunch group if they thought there was anyone on their campus going hungry over the weekend. Within three weeks, 30 students were identified, donations were gathered, groceries were purchased, sacks were assembled, and Bill’s Backpacks was born. Tracy still just expected to feed a few students over the Christmas break. In the last eight years Bill’s Backpacks has grown to serve approximately 180 students on all six campuses, but this program has also grown to an annual cost of over $30,000 just to cover the weekends. The plan is to get everyone involved and make the program sustainable. Sacks are assembled and delivered to each campus every week.
Each student is given 10 items that are child friendly and ready to eat.
HOW CAN YOU HELP: You can give food. We do a food drive request every month to make it easy for those that just want to pick up a few extra items when they are in the grocery store or for those that want their children to see what it means to help other children. Stay tuned to our Facebook page to see which item we are featuring each month. You can drop off your food items at College Avenue Animal Clinic, AIM Bank, the Chamber of Commerce, LISD Administration or any LISD campus.
You can give money. For some, they don’t want to do the extra shopping and drop off and would like a way to donate to the whole program to use where it is needed. By centralizing the process, we can take advantage of bulk purchasing. Five dollars feeds one student for one weekend, or $180 sponsors one student for a year. Monetary donations are accepted at the LISD Admin Office, at AIM Bank or they may be mailed to P.O. Box 974, Levelland, TX 79336. You can give time. We are also needing volunteers to work the entrances of United Supermarkets once a month. The volunteers are needed to collect food and monetary donations from customers as they pass.
IN SUMMARY: Where else can you give that all the money stays local and none of it goes towards administration? Bill’s Backpacks isn’t about a government handout. It’s not about judging why this is happening, this is about doing what is right for the children in our community. It is about treating students with respect and giving them a fighting chance to come to school on Monday more capable of learning. We believe that Bill’s Backpacks has endless potential and hope that you will join us in the fight to end hunger in our school district.