Backpacks for Breaks Program

The Kiwanis Club of Ellicott City is proud to continue its long-standing partnership with the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) through the creation of the Backpacks for Breaks program. This service initiative aims to eliminate food insecurity in our community by providing children with nutritious meals during school breaks when free and reduced lunch programs are not in operation.

Backpacks for Breaks was launched in December 2019 when the Kiwanis club provided 48 backpacks for elementary school students in Columbia. Each backpack was filled with 30 meals for the 10-day Winter Break. That was a total of 1,440 meals.

HCPSS staff and Kiwanis Members posing with our first Backpack Program delivery in Winter 2019.

The club planned to replicate the effort in April 2020, but plans were changed due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July and August 2020, club members rallied together to provide 560 total meals each week to 80 children from 20 underserved families in Columbia. In total, 2,800 meals were provided over the course of five weeks.

Kiwanis members with several backpacks from our Summer 2020 Program.
Kiwanis and Key Club members posing with 150 backpacks in December 2020.

In December 2020, the Kiwanis club provided 150 local children with backpacks filled with 33 meals and healthy snacks for the 11-day Winter Break. That was a total of 4,950 meals. Members of our Kiwanis club were joined in service by three members of the Key Club at Glenelg High School and two members of the Capital Kiwanis Next Generation e-Club. Our project was supported by a generous donation of 3,000 pieces of fresh fruit from Coastal Sunbelt Produce, a grant from the Capital District Kiwanis Foundation, and sizeable philanthropic support from dozens of donors in the community. 

The project was highlighted in The Baltimore Sun, Howard County Times, and Columbia Flier. The service initiative was also spotlighted by Kiwanis International.

In April 2021, the Kiwanis club provided 150 backpacks to children for the five-day Spring Break. That was a total of 2,250 meals. Students from the Key Club at River Hill High School and the student group Hawks Fight Hunger rallied to donate over 1,400 individual food items for the project. Again, our project was supported by a generous donation of 2,250 pieces of fresh fruit from Coastal Sunbelt Produce, a substantial grant from the Capital District Kiwanis Foundation, and the transformative support of individual donors from throughout our community. Kiwanis members were joined in service by members and advisors from the Key Clubs at Glenelg High School and River Hill High School, as well as our 2020 Teenager of the Year Award recipient. 

Kiwanis and Key Club members packing backpacks in April 2021

The Kiwanis Club of Ellicott City plans to replicate this project in December 2021 when it provides an additional 150 local children with backpacks filled with meals and healthy snacks for Winter Break. 

The Kiwanis Club of Ellicott City was chartered in 1940 and has served the citizens of Howard County for 81 years.

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