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.

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?

53 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
America’s Finest Charter School San Diego Unified School District
Audubon Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Balboa Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Bobier Elementary Vista Unified School District
Boone Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Borrego Springs Elementary Borrego Springs Unified School District
Calvin J. Lauderbach Elementary Chula Vista Elementary School District
Central Elementary Escondido Union School District
Cherokee Point Elementary  San Diego Unified School District
Chollas/Meade Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Coronado Unified School District (ALL) Coronado Unified School District
Del Rio Elementary Oceanside Unified School District
Edison Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Epiphany Prep School of San Diego Escondido Union School District
Farr Avenue Elementary Escondido Union School District
Felicita Elementary Escondido Union School District
Field Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Foothill Oak Elementary Vista Unified School District
Franklin Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Garden Road Elementary Poway Unified School District
Grapevine Elementary Vista Unified School District
Harborside Elementary Chula Vista Elementary School District
Herbert Ibarra Elementary San Diego Unified School District
John Adams Elementary San Diego Unified School District
John Montgomery Elementary Chula Vista Elementary School District
Joli Ann Elementary San Marcos Unified School District
Kimball Elementary National Elementary School District
Kimbrough Elementary San Diego Unified School District
King Chavez of Excellence San Diego Unified School District
La Mirada Academy San Marcos Unified School District
Libby Elementary Oceanside Unified School District
Linda Vista Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Los Penasquitos Elementary Poway Unified School District
Mary Fay Pendleton Fallbrook Union Elementary School District
Maryland Elementary Vista Unified School District
Mason Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Midland Elementary Poway Unified School District
Mission Elementary Oceanside Unified School District
Oak Park Music Conservatory San Diego Unified School District
Ocean Beach Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Pomerado Elementary School Poway Unified School District
Potrero Elementary Mountain Empire Unified School District
San Luis Rey Elementary Oceanside Unified School District
San Marcos Elementary San Marcos Unified School District
San Miguel Elementary Lemon Grove School District
Sherman Elementary San Diego Unified School District
Smythe Elementary San Ysidro Elementary School District
Stuart Mesa Elementary Fallbrook Union Elementary School District
Sunset Elementary San Ysidro Elementary School District
Valley Elementary Poway Unified School District
Vista Academy of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Vista Unified School District
Vista La Mesa Elementary Lemon Grove School District
Vista Square Elementary Chula Vista Elementary School District


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 858-863-5143 or sparks@sandiegofoodbank.org