Approximately 56,000 students in The Food Bank’s service area qualify for free and reduced-priced school meals. For many of them, breakfast and lunch at school offer the only source of reliable nutrition and they are at risk of hunger over the weekend.

To alleviate this risk, The Food Bank partners with elementary schools in 28 of the 32 counties it serves to provide Buddy Packs to school children. Buddy Packs are backpacks filled with kid-friendly, nutritious food that students take home over the weekend or holiday periods to supplement their meals when there is not enough for them to eat at home. After the weekend, the kids bring their empty Buddy Pack back to school to be refilled by local volunteers. The program continues week after week throughout the school year or as needed to keep the growing youngsters happy and healthy.

During the 2013-14 school-year, more than 6,000 Buddy Packs were distributed weekly.  You can help children in the next school year by donating backpacks or money to purchase food for the program. You could also Adopt a Buddy to provide one backpack for one child for an entire school year!

Items Needed for Buddy Packs

Make a cash donation to The Food Bank, and we’ll buy food for the Buddy Packs directly. This is the best possible choice since The Food Bank can buy four times as much Buddy Pack food with $1 as the general public can.  You can donate in person or by mail at 1021 Vandiver Drive, Columbia, 65202-1910, or by calling TFB, (573) 474-1020.

If you want to donate directly, please give …

  • New or gently used backpacks
  • Nutritious, shelf-stable food items such as
    • Peanut butter crackers
    • Pop-top Canned fruits
    • Pop-top Canned soup
    • Granola bars
    • Peanut butter (in plastic jar)

If you choose to donate food, please avoid items such as:

  • Food stored in glass containers
  • Perishable food such as fresh fruits & vegetables
  • Cookies or other items containing a lot of sugar

Click here to learn more about the Buddy Pack Program in your county.