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A non-profit in Highlands Ranch wants to help end hunger in Douglas County Schools

Backpack Society wants to make hunger-free weekends a reality for school children by providing access to non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — A new pilot program will launch this spring to help with hunger in Douglas County. The new non-profit is called Backpack Society and was created by a parent in the Douglas County School District. 

“It’s all around, and it's an unfortunate thing,” said June Everett. “Hunger and poverty is something that is a silent crisis that people don’t know much about because you suffer in silence.”

Credit: Byron Reed

The Backpack Society is focused on ending weekend hunger within the school district. Everett said it’s an issue that often gets overlooked because Douglas County is known to be a wealthy community.

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“In Douglas County, it’s not something that goes hand in hand,” she said. “In the entire Douglas County School District, we’re looking at about over 5,000 students and Thunder Ridge alone, they have 117 students who are actually on the free or reduced lunch program.”

Everett said she individually called schools within the district to learn of their needs for hungry students. Backpack Society's pilot program will start with 20 children at Thunder Ridge High School. Everett hopes to help all 117 children in the 2020-2021 school year -- and eventually help even more schools in the district.

Credit: Byron Reed

“Teachers know first-hand, they see the students coming in hungry, and they pay so much out of their pocket to help these kids on other levels -- much less buying a box of Granola for them, and that’s what they’re doing today,” she said. 

According to Everett, each backpack will provide students enough for three meals per day to cover the entire weekend. Each meal will be non-perishable and easy to prepare. 

Credit: Byron Reed

“Unfortunately, there’s a lot of students in our area that don’t have the necessary means to receive food from their families,” said Thunder Ridge intervention specialist Jessica McCague. “I think there’s a misnomer that in Douglas County that there’s a lot of students that don’t have need and one of the basic community needs that are not being met for some of our students is unfortunately food.”

Everett hopes she hopes to address and issue that may go unnoticed by helping students in the district one school at a time. 

Credit: Byron Reed

“It’s sad to think about a child missing one meal much less an entire weekend’s worth.”

For more information, click here.  https://www.backpacksociety.org/.

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