Picture this: you’re seven years old and food insecure. You get lunch at school, but that’s about it. You’re not old enough to get a job or to drive and your parents aren’t there to provide for you. You can imagine how this could affect a child’s ability to learn, to survive. I was once volunteering at a local elementary school and was there when the kids received a food delivery. They lit up like it was Christmas morning, comparing their cans of green beans and boxes of pasta with the enthusiasm that more fortunate children might compare BB guns or Barbie dolls. I left that day with a broken heart. It’s so easy to take simple things like food security for granted, and when you see it up close, it becomes very real.
One Greensboro woman saw this need and decided to do something about it.
Photo courtesy of backpackbeginnings.org.
In the past seven years, Parker White, founder of BackPack Beginnings, has successfully made a difference in the lives of these children.
In 2010, White had the same dilemma a lot of us do—she wanted to help her community, but wasn’t sure where to start. As a new mother that had just moved back to Greensboro from Washington, her eyes were quickly opened to the needs of children of the community.
When she reached out to the Guilford County School System, she discovered that while some churches and volunteer groups were trying to make a dent in child hunger, there was still a need. She decided to work with Second Harvest Food Bank and Guilford Child Development’s Learning Together Family Literacy Program to create the BackPack Beginnings program. She started the program in her dining room with a handful of volunteers and the program has now exploded, leading to necessary expansions like trauma backpacks. Last year, White won $25,000 through the NASCAR Foundation and now, BackPack Beginnings operates a food program, comfort program, 19 food pantries and a free clothing pantry, all of which is volunteer-supported.
To donate time, money, or items, go to backpackbeginnings.org.