The Channel One Regional Food Bank’s Backpack Program began during the 2010-11 school year after Channel One was approached by a church that was working with two schools and wanted to help feed elementary age school children. The backpack program discreetly provides nutritious, child-friendly, easy-to-prepare food to chronically hungry children. The food is distributed in ordinary backpacks students take home over the weekends and out-of-school times.

For students in need, the program:

  • Provides nutrition
  • Eases anxieties
  • Reduces absenteeism
  • Improves attention span
  • Raises academic performance
  • Increases self esteem
girl with apple

It also teaches good eating habits, provides good community role models, demonstrates community pride and serves as an effective outreach program.

The Channel One Backpack Program has rapidly grown to serving 20 schools – 17 elementary schools and 3 middle schools—and 1,200 students in Olmsted County. In Rochester Public Schools alone, 32% of the students receive free or reduced price lunch, so we know there are a large number of children in our communities who need our help to fight hunger in their homes.

Channel One Olmsted County Backpack Program

Each week during the school year, Channel One partner churches pick-up child-friendly food from Channel One and pack it into non-descript backpacks that are assigned by number to a child at their partner school. The church groups then deliver the backpacks to the school where school staff distribute them on Friday as kids head home for the weekend. On Monday, the backpacks return empty to school, where the churches pick them up and the process starts all over again. Channel One is committed to providing the food to partner churches in Olmsted County for the backpacks free of charge. Children enrolled in the Backpack Program are chosen based upon eligibility for free and reduced price lunches as identified by the schools.

Interested in donating funds to the Channel One Backpack Program?

A gift of $72 will help feed one child on the weekends throughout the entire school year. Consider joining Channel One in changing the lives of children struggling with hunger by giving a gift to the Backpack Program.

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Are you interested in starting a Backpack Program in your community?

Channel One Regional Food Bank has partnerships with nearly 17 agencies throughout our 14 county service area. If you are interested in learning more about how your organization can partner with Channel One to help feed children in need please Contact Joellen Barak at 507-424-1713 or