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Cambria County Backpack Program

According to Feeding America almost five thousand kids in Cambria county alone are food insecure. That means that they don’t have access to enough food in order to live a healthy, active life. However, one local organization is working to change that.

The Cambria County Backpack Project held their TEAM UP for Child Hunger Weekend alongside the Johnstown Tomahawks at the 1st Summit Arena at the Cambria County War Memorial.

The backpack project provides free meals to local school-aged children to take home for the weekend. They serve over 500 children a week every week here in Cambria County totaling over 10 school districts.

“In Cambria County 1 in 5 children are chronically hungry, “These are children who oftentimes don’t eat a meal from school lunch on Friday until breakfast Monday morning at school. With our families facing higher grocery costs, higher gas costs, higher utility costs, they’re often having to choose between buying groceries and paying their electric bill.”

With many pandemic era benefits changing this year, such as the supplemental nutrition assistance program or (SNAP) seeing a decrease, more families are turning elsewhere for help.

“Definitely more referrals, more children enrolled in the backpack project, Families are struggling to buy groceries and keeping food in their house.”

Food insecurity impacts not only the physical development of a child but also their social and emotional as well as learning capabilities.

“When a child’s basic needs aren’t met it’s harder for them to focus in school and learn, We know statistically that kids have developmental delays who aren’t getting proper nutrition. They have a lack of focus, often behavior problems, so once we feed the kids and give them the proper nutrition then they’re more likely to learn and be able to focus in school.”

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