BackPack Programs in St. Lawrence County

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BackPack Programs in St. Lawrence County
Backpacks, distributed discreetly to participating students at the end of of the week, are full of kid-friendly food. Photo Credit: http://nonprofitresourceblog.wordpress.com/

BackPack Programs in schools around St. Lawrence County and across the nation are working to combat child hunger…over the weekend. Teachers, school nurses, and guidance counselors remark that thousands of students are arriving at school on Monday morning, hungry and unable to focus on their lessons because they are not receiving sufficient or balanced meals over the weekend. BackPack programs work to fill this void by providing children, who qualify for free and reduced meals, with enough nutritious food for the weekend. 

What is the BackPack Program's ultimate goal? To have each and every child arriving at school at the start of the week, properly energized and ready to learn.

BackPack programs are organized and run by groups of dedicated community and school volunteers. Donated food items are packed into bags that are discreetly distributed to participating students near the end of the school week. The backpacks contain yummy, kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare foods, enough for two breakfasts, two lunches, and snacks for the duration of the weekend. Typical food items include granola bars and individual serving containers of cereal, canned soup or ravioli, fresh fruit, applesauce, and crackers. Some programs even supply students with food during school breaks; ask your local school district directly to find out if this service is available in your area. 

BackPack Programs always welcome monetary donations, but if you are interested in donating food, be sure to check with your program director first to see what grocery items will be the most useful.

Below, you will find contacts and more information about the BackPack Programs already operating in St. Lawrence County. If you are aware of any local schools with similar programs that are not listed, please let us know at info@gardenshare.org. 

If you are wondering if your child qualifies for this program or are interested in signing him or her up to receive BackPack meals, please see the contact information provided below.

Check out this May 2014 article from the Watertown Daily Times to learn more about the amazing efforts of BackPack Program volunteers in our area schools! http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/article/20140508/OGD/705089734

Listing last updated: 9/21/18

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Canton Central School Golden Bear Packs Program

The Golden Bear Packs Program is open to all current Canton Central School students.


Contact Kelley Glasgow, Banford School Counselor, at (315) 386-8561 ext. 1400 or via email at kglasgow@ccsdk12.org, with any questions.


Consider contributing a monetary donation; they are always welcome and go towards purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables to fill the Bear Packs. A donation of $100 will sponsor one child for the entire school year. All contributions are tax deductible.

Please send your generous donations to:
Elementary Conseling Office
Attn: Golden Bear Education Foundation
99 State Street
Canton, NY 13617

Click here to visit the Bear Packs Program website.

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Colton-Pierrepont & Parishville-Hopkinton Central School Districts Backpack Programs

Backpack Programs of the Colton-Pierrepont Central School and the Parishville-Hopkinton Central School District provide eligible students with food packets for weekends. Eligibility is decided by the school’s guidance counselor, though most students who qualify are already receiving free or reduced meals.

These Backpack Programs benefit students from elementary through high school age in either school district.

Please contact Heather Rousell with any questions at hrousell@cpcs.us or by calling the Guidance Office at Parishville-Hopkinton Central School (315) 265-4642. 
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Madrid-Waddington Backpack Program

The New Beginnings Center in Madrid operates a backpack program in Madrid-Waddington schools for school breaks (long weekends and vacations). Donations are welcomed and you can reach New Beginnings at (315) 322-4073. Volunteers are needed to help the school nurse, Amber Murphy, distribute the backpacks! 

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Gouverneur Kiwanis Wildcat Backpack Program


This program provides bags of food each weekend to elementary school children who receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch during the week at school in Gouverneur.


For more information contact Charity Zawatski at zawatski.charity@gcsk12.org or by calling (315) 727-5839. 

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Hammond Central School Backpack Program

The Hammond BackPack Program is set up in association with the First Congregational Church of Morristown. The program currently has one location that distributes food to 19 families in the Hammond Central School District, and the list continues to grow each year.


The Hammond Backpack program is seeking donations of macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, instant potatoes, spaghetti and sauce, tuna fish, canned chicken, instant oatmeal, and canned fruits and vegetables. (NO items in glass containers, please!)

Food donations can be dropped off at any of the following locations:
-Shirley Bogart--36 South Main Street, Hammond, NY
-First Congregational Church—541 Sand Street, Brier Hill (Sundays only)
-Vintage Doors—66 South Main Street, Hammond, NY (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm

Monetary donations are also welcome. Checks can be made payable to the “First Congregational Church.” Please write “Hammond BackPack Program” on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to: Shirley Bogart, 36 South Main Street, Hammond, NY 13646

Contact Shirley Bogart at (315) 324-6598 with any questions and for more information.

Click here to visit the Hammond Central School’s website. 
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Harrisville Central School Backpack Program


The backpack program at Harrisville Central School was started by our Youth Advisory Council. The program provides students in elementary through high school with backpacks filled with non-perishable food for the weekend. Eligibility is determined by the guidance department and is based on student/family needs.
Donations of non-perishable food items can be made at the high school office.

For more information, please reach out to your child's teacher or contact Shelly Carr at (315) 543-2707 (ext. 27909) or at scarr@hcsk12.org. 

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Lisbon Central School Backpack Program

Completely funded by generous donations from the community, the Lisbon Backpack Program was started in 2011 and has been helping up to twenty-six families and 50 children each year in the Lisbon School District.

Your monetary donations are greatly appreciated. Please make all donations payable to: LCS Backpack Program. Mail checks, along with the donation form (which can be found at the website link below) to Wendy Jacobs, 10026 State Highway 37, Ogdensburg, NY 13669.

Call Wendy Jacobs at (315) 393-7987 with any questions about the program or about making a donation.

Click here to visit the website where you will find additional information, a program application, and donation form for the Lisbon Backpack Program.

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Massena Central Schools Back the Pack


Massena's Back the Pack program has grown from an initial distribution to 42 students in 2011 to more than 300 students currently. Food is distributed at all four elementary schools in Massena once a week and a new program is getting under way this year that distributes monthly to students at the junior high school.


Donations of non-perishable food items are welcomed and accepted at Simply You Wellness Spa, 211 East Orvis Street, Massena. People wishing to make a monetary donation to the program can do so by mail to Massena Back the Pack, P.O. Box 16, Massena, NY 13662, or by donating online via the organization's website.


Students are selected for the program by their school guidance counselors. The identities of students in the program are kept confidential. Program volunteers and donors are not told the names of the specific students to whom the packs are being given. Families who feel they might qualify for the program are encouraged to contact either the principal or the guidance counselor at their child's school. The phone number for the Massena Central School District is 315-764-3700, and each individual school can be reached through that number.


For more information about Massena Back the Pack, please call Julianne Paquin at 315-769-7688 or Ann Greene at 315-769-9774. You can also learn more about the program by visiting their website at www.massenabackthepack.org
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Norwood-Norfolk Central School Snack Pack Program

The Norwood-Norfolk Snack Pack program is completely donation based and volunteer run, providing participating students with a gallon-sized bag full of food to take home every weekend and on holidays too.

A group of committed volunteers meets at the school every Thursday morning to pack the bags that are then distributed to participating students at the end of the following school day. Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer or offering a monetary donation to the Snack Pack program should contact Rita Jackson at (315) 353-8816 or email at wjackson@twcny.rr.com. You may also contact Denise diVincenzo at (315) 353-2849 or email at mdivincenzo9@gmail.com as well as Mary Ellen Todd at (315) 244-4680 or email at mtod47@yahoo.com. 

Click here to access more information about the program on the school’s website. To find a donation form to the Norwood-Norfolk Snack Pack Program, click here.
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Ogdensburg Snackpack Program

The Ogdensburg Snackpack Program is a not for profit community organization run entirely on volunteer support from teachers and staff members and funded by communty donations and fundraisers. The program runs at Grant C. Madill Elementary School (800 Jefferson Avenue, Ogdensburg, NY 13669) and John F. Kennedy Elementary School (801-809 Park Street, Ogdensburg, NY 13669). The program supports around 270 students, by providing them two snacks daily on the weekends (fruit and cereal).

Contact Sue Jacobs at (315) 393-4264 (ext. 32901) with questions about the program or to make a donation to the Ogdensburg Snackpack Program.

Click here to visit Madill Elementary School’s food service page.

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Clifton-Fine Backpack Pantry (CFBP)

The Clifton-Fine Backpack Pantry serves almost 300 families per month through its weekly backpack program and supplemental food pantry. CFBP works to break the cycle of poverty in the Clifton/Fine community and send mesages of kindness, compassion, and connection. The program was established in 2017 through a collaboration with CFCSD, the PTO, the local food pantry, and the Food Bank of Central NY. CFBP currently provides weekly backpacks to over 20% of its student population and serves an additional 60 individuals via the pantry.

Families can self-refer by contacting the school social worker, Kathy Elmer at (315) 848-3333 x.112 or kelmer@cliftonfine.org. CFBP is entirely funded through the generosity of local grants, donations and fundraisers. Volunteers are always welcome!

The pantry serves income eligible families only (185% of the federal poverty line), while the backpack program does not require income information. The pantry is open the first Tuesday of every month from 3:30 to 5:00 pm. Click here to find income eligibility guidelines and more details at CFCSD's website. 

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Heuvelton Backpack Program

Special Education teacher Angie McRoberts coordinates the Heuvelton Backpack program. The program currently serves around 60 students, and gladly accepts donations from the community. Call (315) 344-2414 and ask for Angie or the backpack program, or email Angie at amcroberts@heuvelton.k12.ny.us to find out more.

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Morristown Backpack Program

The Morristown Backpack program is overseen by K-12 Guidance counselor Sarah Belile, who can be reached at (315) 375-8814 or sbelile@mcsk12.org. The program distributes backpacks full of food for the weekends to around 60 students. Every student receives a form at the beginning of the school year detailing how get signed up for the program, which begins distributing food mid-September.

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Brasher Falls Backpack Program

Community member and substitute teacher Terry Rios-Passon, affiliated with the Tri-Town Community Services Pantry in North Lawrence, coordinates the Brasher Falls/St. Lawrence Central Backpack program, which distributes bags of food to the lockers and cubbies of elementary, middle, and highschoolers on Fridays. The program also distributes snacks to classrooms, so teachers can make sure everyone has something to eat and share during snacktime. 

Terry welcomes donations and inquiries to 446 CR 53, Brasher Falls, 13613. Her phone number is (414) 491-3506. 

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Potsdam Snack Pack Program

The Potsdam Snack Pack Program is currently providing a minimum of eight non-perishable snacks to over 160 Potsdam Central School District students per week. Founded in 2016 by Laurell Brault, the program is operated out of New Hope Community Church in Potsdam. When the program was launched in November 2016, snack packs were distributed to 40 elementary school students. As teachers and counselors continued to identify eligible students, and parents signed the required permission slips, the number of students served has continued to increase.

The Snack Pack Program is totally dependent on the generosity and involvement of community members and organizations. Volunteers normally meet at 9 a. m. on Thursdays at New Hope Community Church to prepare the snack packs. The names of the students receiving the snacks are confidential and not released to the program coordinator or other volunteers. The school counselors receive the designated number of snack packs for their school and the items are discretely distributed to the students. If you have a child who may be eligible to receive a snack pack please contact the school counselor. We want to ensure that no child goes hungry over the weekend, and that every child is fully prepared to be an active learner when she or he returns to school.

Monetary donations are also greatly appreciated as they allow us to have greater control over the inventory and purchase items in bulk. For a donation of $100 a child in need of nutritional food can be helped for one school year. Checks can be made out to the Potsdam Snack Pack Program, 200 Market Street, #228, Potsdam, NY 13676. Monetary donations can also be made at any branch of North Country Savings Bank; just let the bank teller know that it's for the Potsdam Snack Pack Program. For more information about other ways you can support the program please call 315-265-3920 or follow them on Facebook to keep up-to-date on their progress and ways to get involved.