Backpacks Unite fights for a healthier Southwest Virginia by providing nutritious weekend meals to at-risk students throughout the region – ensuring they come to school Monday ready to learn and ready to succeed.
Research and anecdotal evidence tells us that children who come to school hungry are unable to concentrate in the classroom, missing out on valuable learning opportunities and gradually falling behind their well-fed counterparts. Research also shows that students who participate in backpack programs can show marked improvement in school attendance, test scores, behavior, and health.
Backpacks Unite has expanded since its conception in 2009 as the needs of the region have continued to persist, and continues to be one of our organization’s largest volunteer outreach activities, with sponsors and volunteers providing hundreds of thousands of meals to students each year. The initiative works with more than 20 sponsors to serve over 1,000 students (in over 30 schools) across the region who are at risk of going hungry. The program is a collaborative effort among United Way of Southwest Virginia, community organizations, school personnel, and Food City.