Backpacks Unite2018-10-17T18:26:39+00:00

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 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.

“I think Backpacks Unite is a great thing for the children and their families. It has helped my family, and I know it has helped others. My four children love the food. Thank you for doing this.”

– Crystal, parent

How It Works

INVEST
You invest financially in our Backpacks Unite program.

PURCHASE
United Way and sponsors purchase healthy foods for each school through our partnership with Food City.

PACK
Sponsors and their volunteers pack the bags of food on a routine basis throughout the school year.

DELIVER
Sponsors deliver the food to the schools periodically so teachers will have enough to distribute each weekend.

NOURISH
Teachers discreetly place the bags of food in identified students’ backpacks to take home over the weekend.

CHANGE
Students can come to school on Monday ready to learn and ready to succeed. Lasting change is created.

2018-2019 Schools

Belfast Elementary School
Castlewood Elementary School
Cedar Bluff Elementary School
Clintwood Elementary School
Chilhowie Middle School
Copper Creek Elementary School
Dungannon Intermediate School
E.B. Stanley Middle School
Ervinton Elementary School
Fairview Elementary School
Glade Spring Middle School
Gladeville Elementary School
Graham Middle School
Greendale Elementary School
High Point Elementary School
Honaker Elementary School
John I Burton High School
Lebanon Elementary School
Lebanon Middle School
Lebanon Primary School
Meadowview Elementary School
North Tazewell Elementary School
Northwood Middle School
Oakland Elementary School
Rhea Valley Elementary School
Richlands Elementary School
Richlands Middle School
Ridgeview Middle School
Riverview Elementary/Middle School
Sandlick Elementary School
St. Paul Elementary School
Swords Creek Elementary School
Tazewell Elementary School
Tazewell Middle School
Watauga Elementary School
Wise Primary School

2018-2019 Schools

Belfast Elementary School
Castlewood Elementary School
Cedar Bluff Elementary School
Clintwood Elementary School
Chilhowie Middle School
Copper Creek Elementary School
Dungannon Intermediate School
E.B. Stanley Middle School
Ervinton Elementary School
Fairview Elementary School
Fries School
Glade Spring Middle School
Gladeville Elementary School
Graham Middle School
Greendale Elementary School
High Point Elementary School
Honaker Elementary School
John I Burton High School
Lebanon Elementary School
Lebanon Middle School
Lebanon Primary School
Meadowview Elementary School
North Tazewell Elementary School
Northwood Middle School
Oakland Elementary School
Raven Elementary School
Rhea Valley Elementary School
Richlands Elementary School
Richlands Middle School
Ridgeview Middle School
Riverview Elementary/Middle School
Saltville Elementary School
Sandlick Elementary School
St. Paul Elementary School
Swords Creek Elementary School
Tazewell Elementary School
Tazewell Middle School
Watauga Elementary School
Wise Primary School

Sponsor

To get a Backpacks Unite program started in your community:

  1. Find a school you’re connected to that’s in need of a sponsor. You can choose from the 2018 schools that we’ve identified in the list above.
  2. Reach out to us. United Way of Southwest Virginia will work with you to help facilitate your program. Ready to sponsor a school? Contact Mary Anne Holbrook at mholbrook@unitedwayswva.org or call 276.525.4075.
  3. Organize your team. Your friends, businesses, community organizations, or even teachers in your community will make great team members for your sponsor group. This group will help you sponsor the school financially, and also help pack and distribute the food to the schools.

Are you an existing backpack program and would like to learn more about Backpacks Unite? Email info@unitedwayswva.org or call 276.628.2160.

Donate

If you would like to donate to the initiative, click one of the buttons here to make your gift.

Donate to provide meals for 24 students
Donate to provide meals for one student

<-  Back to United Way’s work in Health

About our work in Health

United Way of Southwest Virginia is fighting for the health of the region by promoting healthy eating and physical activity, expanding access to quality health care, lowering the cost of prescription medications, building a more resilient community, and integrating health into early childhood development.