Imagine having to save a half a pack of crackers from the vending machine because you were worried your brother might not have food for dinner.
That was the case for one young boy in Virginia. Last year, his teacher discovered that many children in his school were going hungry on the weekends and weeknights, and they didn’t know where their next meal would come from.
She came to this realization, by accident, through an award she gave out each week to a student in her class for doing something special. The student who was picked got to choose a snack out of the vending machine as their reward.
One week, the boy who won picked a pack of crackers for his prize and only ate half of the pack. When the teacher asked him why he didn’t want more, he said he had to save them for his brother since he might not have enough to eat that night at dinner.
The teacher bought him another pack of crackers for his brother and then started brainstorming about how she could fix this problem. And soon after, through a partnership with humanitarian aid organization, Gleaning For The World, Backpacks for Kids’ Sake was born.
In researching and implementing the backpacks program, GFTW discovered that 6,850 elementary school children in Central Virginia go home from school for the weekend to a house with little or no food.
To fill that need GFTW takes nondescript blue backpacks and, through partnerships with local churches, packs them with USDA-approved nutritious food.
Some items include canned goods, tuna, beef stew, fruit cups, cereal boxes, juice boxes and peanut butter. The kids pick up their backpacks on Friday afternoon so they have food to eat over the weekend. On Monday morning they return the backpack to be refilled for Friday.
Ron Davidson, COO and founder of GFTW, told The Christian Post that many of the kids try to keep quiet about the backpacks because they don’t want to be singled out. Some come from a culture where their parents are into drugs. They often hide the backpacks under their bed and share the food with their brothers and sisters.
The GFTW program helps supplement the government food programs that provide meals for the children when they are at school. Currently, the program serves six schools in the area, but they hope to expand in the coming year.
GFTW is based in Concord, Va., and provides a variety of local and international humanitarian aid. This year they took top honors from Forbes Magazine and were awarded the title of most efficient charity for a third year in a row.
More than 200 charities were evaluated in Forbes' annual study, including World Vision, the American Red Cross, Campus Crusade for Christ, Habitat for Humanity and the American Cancer Society. Gleaning For The World received a 100 percent efficiency rating in charitable commitment and fundraising efficiency.
Davidson told The Christian Post about how the overall organization works. On top of local charities, they also provide supplies to the international mission field.
GFTW collects surplus goods from U.S. companies and makes sure people in the mission field receive the supplies they need. Those supplies range from medical gear and first aid kits to nutrition bars, shoes and clothing.
“Every industry has a usable product that didn’t sell well,” Davidson said. Those industries also overproduce goods or the products have small defects like a crooked label. Regardless, they are perfectly usable and meet U.S. standards, so GFTW takes those products and ships them to the mission field.
Davidson was happy with the Forbes award and said it’s “an awesome thing” especially since they aren’t a massive organization. “We’re sitting out here in rural America with volunteers doing our packing and work,” he said. But their mission is clear in the work they do. Davidson said GFTW seeks “to honor God and provide supplies to care for God’s people.”