Backpack Meals provides nutritious food for youth who are homeless or living in households who are experiencing food instability. Our mission is to strengthen our community by feeding students who are hungry so that they are able to continue their education.
Backpack Meals is a non-profit group of volunteers who provide weekend meals each during the school year for nearly 1,000 youth in Bellevue schools, pre-school through high school age who would otherwise go hungry. Hunger is a problem for many people in Bellevue. There are over 400 known homeless students in Bellevue and 3,679 students who receive free or reduced lunch because they live in poverty. We learned from Bellevue School staff who assists children who are homeless, that many students were coming to school on Monday hungry and unable to focus on school work. Without adequate nutrition, students have difficulty focusing in school, get sick more often and are more likely to have behavioral problems. In 2012, we organized to fill the gap. Our only funding comes from individual community members who care including the Windermere Foundation, Factoria Sunrise Rotary, Bellevue Christian Church, Bellevue Rotary and local churches. Our goal is to provide nutritious, kid friendly meals that are easy to prepare, so that if the child is home alone, she can can heat in a microwave. We provide individual microwaveable entrees, fruits, vegetables, milk and snacks which kids can easily take home in the backpack we provide or their own. At some schools we provide breakfast if the school does not have a Federal program. We also supply food during summer school.
Since COVID we have contributed $40,000 to struggling families, 26,000 for packs of food and $14,000 to support children through with grocery cards and a food pantry.
Backpack Meals Board Members include Jan Starr, Maggie Rader, Lara Brown, Farida Hakim, Julie Yari, Tiffany Ash and Ankit Gupta.
Donors include: The Windermere Foundation. The Bellevue Fire Fighter Foundation. Factoria Sunrise Rotary. Assistance League of Eastside. Microsoft Matching. Lehmbecker Law Firm. Many faith communities including the Muslim Community Resource Center, Holy Cross Lutheran, East Shore Unitarian, St. Margarets Episcopal Church, Aldersgate United Methodist, Bellevue Christian Church, St. Louise Parish, Church of the Resurrection. Also, many individuals and families living on the eastside donate to Backpack Meals for Kids.