1507 Grimm Drive
Erie, PA 16501
Phone: 814-459-3663
Mon – Fri, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

1507 Grimm Drive
Erie, PA 16501
Phone: 814-459-3663
Mon – Fri, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

BackPack Program

The BackPack Program provides needy children with nutritious, child-friendly food when other resources, such as school lunches and after-school meals or snacks, are not available. Backpacks are discreetly distributed to participating children at schools on Fridays.  This program helps provide the proper nutrition necessary for overall growth, physical and cognitive development and satisfactory performance in school.

Second Harvest selects and obtains the food for our sites and volunteers assemble individual bags for distribution. The food is nonperishable, vitamin fortified, and easy to prepare and consume. Some of the types of items that might be included are juice, soup, nutritious snack bars and crackers.  Children might also share the food with younger siblings at home.

The BackPack Program was designed by Feeding America, the food bank network that Second Harvest belongs to. The idea originated in Little Rock, Arkansas, after a school nurse asked the local food bank for help because hungry children were coming to her with stomachaches and dizziness. The children’s symptoms of hunger brought home the growing need for food assistance among children in our land of plenty. Children comprise 30 percent of the individuals Second Harvest serves.

Second Harvest operates 27 of the more than 2,200 BackPack sites throughout the United States. Second Harvest’s locations are as follows:

  • 12 Elementary Schools in the City of Erie School District
  • Erie RISE Leadership Academy, Erie 
  • R. Benjamin Wiley Charter School, Erie
  • Sarah A. Reed Children's Center, Erie
  • Grandview Elementary School, Millcreek 
  • Springfield Elementary School, East Springfield
  • West Forest Elementary School, Tionesta
  • Hasson Heights, Oil City
  • Sheffield Elementary School, Sheffield
  • Youngsville Elementary School, Youngsville
  • Eisenhower Elementary School, Russell 
  • Warren Area Elementary Center, Warren
  • Tidioute Charter School, Tidioute
  • Robison Elementary, Summit Township
  • Waterford Elementary, Waterford
  • Mill Village Elementary, Mill Village

If you have questions about the program, please contact:  Cindy Plymyer at 814-459-3663, ext. 103, or cplymyer@eriefoodbank.org.

How can you help?

We are working on expanding the program at additional sites and will be grateful for food or monetary donations to help the program grow in northwest Pennsylvania.

Donate food or organize a special food drive. Sufficient donations of individually packaged, nutritious and child-friendly food are difficult to obtain, so Second Harvest may need to purchase appropriate food for the back packs. These purchases tend to be expensive, even at the reduced prices we are able to broker. Donations of these types of foods will help us fill back packs. Donations may be made by individuals or from a food drive that collects one or more of the foods on the suggested list below. To donate food or organize a food drive for the BackPack Program, please call the Food Sourcing Department at 814-459-3663, ext. 109, or mskonieczka@eriefoodbank.org.

Suggested individually packaged food to donate for the BackPack Program:

  • 100 percent juice in single-serving unbreakable bottles, boxes or pouches
  • Small boxes or bags of nutritious cereal
  • Nutritious snack/breakfast bars
  • Fruit cups
  • Small boxes of raisins or dried fruit
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Nonperishable single-serve microwave kids meals
  • Individually packaged crackers

Make a donation. Monetary donations are also gratefully accepted to help expand our BackPack Program. Whether you donate online or by check, you may designate that your gift is to be used for the BackPack Program.