December 6, 2016
Full bellies means more focused attention at A.W. Becker
New program focuses on community to support students
Do you ever have a hunger pang that distracts you
from accomplishing a task? The new BackPack Program at A.W. Becker hopes
to eliminate that feeling for students. The program, run by the Regional
Food Bank of Northeastern New York, focuses on meeting the needs of
hungry children on weekends when other food resources are not available,
by providing backpacks filled with nutritionally balanced food to
participating school districts.
Teaching Assistants Sandi Ackert and Melanie Collins first approached
the school about a year and a half ago to lay the groundwork for the
program that began this October.
“We saw a need as the percent of children qualifying for free and
reduced price lunch has increased over the past few years,” Ackert said.
Getting the program up and running and sustaining the weekly commitment
to 14 Becker families has been a community affair. “Mutual cooperation
all around is what is making this successful,” Ackert said.
The idea began with Ackert and Collins who received the support from
school administrators and then enlisted the help of the Regional
Food Bank of Northeastern New York. The PTA provided backpacks for the
14 students; Stewart’s Shops donate a milk card for each backpack every
other week; Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk bus drivers make a run to the food
bank every Wednesday to pick up the food; custodians at Becker cleared a
space in their room to store the backpacks and food; volunteers pack the
bags to give to students each week; and donations made by the public
restock the shelves at the food bank.
“It takes a village,” Collins said. “We all know that we are filling a
need that also has an educational benefit- the students know they will
be getting food for the weekend so they can focus on their schoolwork
when they’re here.”
The program is free for participating families but relies on donations
from the public to provide food to the families.
Donations can be made to the Regional Food Bank of
NENY with “Backpack Program Ravena” in the memo line of the check to
assure the donation goes directly to the A.W. Becker program.
Checks can be brought directly to the school (attention of Melanie
Collins or Sandi Ackert) or mailed to:
Regional Food Bank of N.E.N.Y.
965 Albany-Shaker Rd.
Latham, NY 12110
For online donations, go to the Regional Food Bank website, click
“Donate Now”, choose your donation amount then scroll down to “Adopt a
Program” to designate "BackPack Ravena” as the recipient.
Click here for donation page.