More than 39 percent of Culver City Unified School District students receive free or reduced price lunches at their schools every day. For many students, this vital resource includes free breakfast. In some circumstances, healthy, reliable meals on the weekends are not a guarantee.
Since 2013, the CCUSD Backpacks for Kids program has been serving students at all CCUSD school sites, serving more than 10,000 meals to students throughout the year.
“Once the word got out about CCUSD students needing food for the weekend, the community responded enthusiastically,” said parent Jamie Wallace, who helps run the program. “Some people are surprised that food uncertainty is a problem in Culver City. I know from first-hand experience from my involvement in our community that there is incredible diversity woven into the fabric of our city and our students. All students should have food on the weekends. After all, hunger should not stand in the way of growing minds.”
The program’s annual food drive will kick off on Nov. 3, encouraging the public – both individuals and companies – to donate foodstuffs that can be packed into backpacks and sent home with students.
“This has been an incredibly successful program that has targeted an important basic need for our students and their families,” said CCUSD Superintendent Dave LaRose. “As we all know, healthy meals are vital for student growth, development and learning. The absence of nutrition on the weekend creates challenges for our children, families and those who serve them in our schools.”
The CCUSD Backpacks for Kids Program provides food to CCUSD students who may not have access to healthy food during the weekend. Parents and staff work together to identify students in need. On Thursdays, parents and student volunteers at one CCUSD location fill the backpacks. The backpacks are delivered every Friday to each school for these students to take home anonymously.
“Our Middle School students take pride in filling the backpacks weekly,” said Leslie Gardner, who helped spearhead the effort with longtime Culver City High School teacher Jerry Chabola. “This work is changing their lives as well as the lives of the students that the backpacks are made for.”
Parents, students and community volunteers run the program. Our school families and community members provide prepackaged, nonperishable foods through school food drives and other donations. Tax-deductible donations are also being accepted to fill the gap between the need and the food donations.
For the second year in a row, CCUSD’s traditional Holiday Food Drives done at individual schools sites will be partnering for this worthy cause – supporting the children who attend our family of schools.
Throughout the weeks leading up to winter recess, each school site will be collecting a specific item for the backpacks:
La Ballona Elementary School – Macaroni and Cheese and Cup o’ Noodles.
El Marino Language School – Peanut butter (plastic jars, 12 or 16 oz. plastic jars).
Linwood E. Howe Elementary School – Granola and Cereal Bars.
El Rincon Elementary School – Pudding Cups. Farragut Elementary School – Fruit Cups (in individual serving containers).
Culver City High School – Cereal (in individual serving containers); Oatmeal (in individual serving packets).
Culver City Middle School – Canned beef stew, canned meat pasta or Vienna sausages (in poptop cans).
Office of Child Development – Wrapped rolls of crackers (e.g.. Ritz).
Donations of any of these items can also be dropped off at the CCUSD District Office located at 4034 Irving Place or at the main office of any CCUSD school site.
Anyone who would like to volunteer and/or make a direct donation, please contact the program at CCBackpacksforKids@gmail.com
The CCUSD Backpacks for Kids program has been made possible though the generous donations of the following organizations and individuals: Jason and Lois Frand, Flanigan Farms, Culver City Lions Club, Culver City Exchange Club, Mark Weiss, Marlene Winston, Martin Weiss, Culver City PTAs and Boosters, Delta Kappa Gamma, Willows Community School, Culver City Symphony Orchestra, The Culver Studios, Jerry Chabola and Culver City Exchange Club.