North Hills backpack initiative helps families in need

North Hills School District  |  Posted on
image north hills sd backpack project

For her recent eighth birthday, Lindsay Taylor requested her party guests donate food items to support the North Hills Backpack Initiative in lieu of presents for her special day. In total, she collected 266 items.

More than one in every four North Hills School District students qualifies for the National School Lunch Program, which assures that eligible students receive free or reduced-price lunch and breakfast on school days. For many area families and millions of children across the nation, securing meals during the weekend can prove to be difficult. Due to those difficulties, the North Hills Backpack Initiative was started by Kathy Helfrich, a North Hills High School guidance counselor, and Holly Michael, a gifted education teacher. The duo saw a need to supplement weekend food supplies for students who qualify for free meals during the school day.

The program operates on donations, and an estimated 71,300 food items will be required this school year for local families in need as 1,980 items are distributed weekly. Approximately 180 families across the district rely upon the program each week for individual care packages and family-size bags of food packed by North Hills community members. Throughout the year, North Hills students and clubs conduct food drives and even hold special collections during birthday parties and neighborhood lemonade stands. Donation boxes also are located in every district building and can be accessed during the school day.