Kansas Food Bank sees rise in food backpacks given to kids

The Kansas Food Bank handed out food backpacks to 6,656 school children and their siblings this month in the 58 Kansas counties it serves, and Food Bank officials say the numbers are trending upward.

In the two previous monthly reports it issued, the numbers were 6,352 and 6,565. The record is 7,158 set last year, said Larry Gunkel, who runs the program for the Food Bank.

In Wichita, as of Jan. 27, there were 1,392 children receiving the weekly food backpacks to ensure that they would have something to eat on weekends. The Food Bank, with the help of donors and volunteers, created the program in 2004 after learning that many children didn’t eat except for what they get on weekdays at public school breakfasts and lunches.

In the monthly reports Gunkel includes notes written by educators about what they are seeing among the children they identify as chronically hungry.

From Buckner Elementary school in Wichita: “I started a new family on the Backpack Program this month. The child was referred by her teacher and I contacted mom and she was so grateful to have this help. I was also able to help her with other needs. This program is sometimes a gateway to finding out when families are struggling.”

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