Food 4 Kids Backpack Program

The Food 4 Kids Backpack Program, established in 2006, provides weekend food packages to chronically hungry elementary school students from low-income households who are at risk of hunger over the weekend when free school meals are unavailable.

Every Friday afternoon students on the program are called out of class, often to the school nurse’s office, and discretely given a bag of food which is tucked into their backpacks. Each bag contains enough food to see the students through the weekend, and the discreet distributions remove the stigma that might be attached to the program.

Support the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program at Mission Fed

Visit any Mission Fed branch in San Diego County during the month of September to donate $5 to support our Food 4 Kids Backpack Program. You will receive a green apple lapel pin for your donation to help spread awareness of child hunger.


How are children selected for the program?

School staff members identify students who display signs of chronic hunger. Warning signs include stomach aches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, hoarding food from the cafeteria, and absenteeism. Once a child has been identified as “chronically hungry,” a referral form is sent to the Food Bank and the student’s parents are sent a permission slip to enroll the student in the program.

What food items are included in the backpack?

Nutritious food items include:
– Cereal
– Fruit bars
– Pancake mix
– Fruit squeezers
– Milk
– Juice
– Soup
– Chicken salad
– Tuna
– Crackers
– Granola
– Mac & beef
– Instant soup
– Oatmeal
– Spaghetti
– Sauce
– Rice
– Canned chicken

Which schools are eligible to participate on the program?

Any San Diego County public school with 80% or more of the school’s student population participating in a free or subsidized school meal program can join the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program.

How can my school participate in the Food 4 Kids Backpack Program?

Establishing a new site is based upon availability and funding. If you are interested in having your elementary school participate in the Backpack Program, please submit an application to the Food Bank. Your application will be reviewed and placed on a waiting list. Admittance to the program is based on funding and the order in which applications are received.

How many schools are currently enrolled in the program?

52 San Diego County elementary schools in 14 school districts are currently enrolled in the program. The program currently feeds 2,600 students each week at the following schools:

School Name School District
Alvin Dunn Elementary San Marcos
Audubon Elementary SDUSD Traditional
Balboa Elementary SDUSD Traditional
Bobier Elementary Vista
Boone Elementary SDUSD Traditional
Calvin J. Lauderbach Elementary Chula Vista
Cherokee Point Elementary SDUSD Year-Round
Chollas/Meade Elementary San Diego
Coronado Unified School District (ALL) Coronado
Del Rio Elementary Oceanside
Edison Elementary SDUSD Year-Round
Felicita Elementary Escondido
Field Elementary SDUSD Traditional
Foothill Oak Elementary Vista
Garrison Elementary Oceanside
Grapevine Elementary Vista
Harborside Elementary Chula Vista
Herbert Ibarra Elementary SDUSD Year-Round
John Adams Elementary SDUSD Traditional
John Montgomery Elementary Chula Vista
Joli Ann Elementary San Marcos
Kimball Elementary National City
Kimbrough Elementary SDUSD Year-Round
King Chavez of Excellence SDUSD Traditional
Libby Elementary Oceanside
Linda Vista Elementary SDUSD Year-Round
Mary Fay Pendleton Fallbrook
Maryland Elementary Vista
Mason Elementary SDUSD Traditional
Mission Elementary Oceanside
Ocean Beach Elementary SDUSD Traditional
Potrero Elementary Mountain Empire
San Luis Rey Elementary Oceanside
San Marcos Elementary San Marcos
San Miguel Elementary Lemon Grove
Sherman Elementary SDUSD Traditional
Smythe Elementary San Ysidro
Sunset Elementary San Ysidro
Vista Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Vista
Vista La Mesa Elementary Lemon Grove
Vista Square Elementary Chula Vista

How much does it cost to feed a child for a year?

  • $200 = 1 school year (36 weekends)
  • $22 = 1 month (4 weekends)
  • $5.55 = 1 weekend

How can I help fund a child or school on the program?

Contact the Food Bank at 1-858-527-1419.

If you have any questions, concerns or want to follow up on an application that has already been submitted, please contact Shelly Parks at 858-863-5132 or