What Is It?

The Junior Cardinal Backpack Program is an effort to assist children in the Clarinda Community School District who suffer from food insecurity.

The U.S. Government defines food insecurity this way, “The state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”

Studies show that 1 in 6 children in Iowa. 13% of all children in Page County are food insecure. (Page County 2017 data provided by Page County Public Health)

History of the Program

The Junior Cardinal Backpack Program began in the spring of 2019. The Community Outreach Committee of the Clarinda Regional Health Center wanted to offer assistance to the young people in the school system who are food insecure.

CRHC Population Health Manger Molly Gilmore says, “Many children in our community do not have enough food to eat, especially on weekends when they are away from school.” Gilmore goes on to say, “Currently, CCSD has been on a waiting list for a federally funded backpack program the past 2 years.  This program supplies healthy food for children to take home on Friday afternoons to help supplement food availability.  At this time, it is unknown when or if Clarinda will be able to get backpacks from this program, as the demand is high.” She concludes, “Clarinda Regional Health Center feels the need for a supplemental food program should be a priority for the children in our school district.  Therefore, we are seeking community partners to begin our own version of the backpack program.” 

In March 2019 CRHC committed to providing the funding for the last six weeks of the school year. Employees have volunteered their time to package the shelf-stable food in bags which are delivered to the Clarinda Elementary and Middle School buildings for distribution for the upcoming weekend. CCSD has developed a process for identifying those students who are at-risk for food insecurity. Currently 135 students are served.

Moving to Next Steps

Our vision is to create a sustainable funding stream to support this important program moving forward. CRHC has applied for a number of grants and will be reaching out to other community-minded businesses for on-going support. And you too can help. Using our current pricing model, we estimate a per child cost of $200 for the entire upcoming 2019-2020 school year. You can personally sponsor one child for either the full year or half a year by using the secure form above. Your contribution will ensure that children in our community will have a better chance to learn and grow into healthy young adults.

Thank you to the Clarinda Foundation for the donation to the Junior Cardinal Backpack Program. Pictured above (left to right) are Clarinda Foundation Board President, Ed Brown; Molly Gilmore, CRHC; and Pam Herzberg, Clarinda Foundation Executive Director.
To read more about recent donations to this program, check out our press release.