Winter 2018

Nourished for the Weekend

Previous Next

Photo: Anna Miller

In recent years, food banks and other antihunger groups have embraced backpack programs, which send public school students home on Fridays with meals—tucked in their backpacks—to help get them through the weekend. “It’s meant to fill the gap that’s left because the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program don’t support children’s food needs over the weekend,” said Lauren O’Brien, N17, coordinator for the Cambridge Weekend Backpack program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, run by Food for Free. She leads a team of volunteers who pack and deliver sandwiches, fruit, oatmeal and other foods to 523 students at 17 schools. According to Krissy Scommegna, N17, who directs the Somerville Backpack Program for nine schools in Somerville, Massachsuetts, last year it took about 1,000 volunteer hours to distribute 34,970 meals to 300 students, including some 8,000 yogurts and 16,000 cheese sticks. Worrying about food puts kids into survival mode, O’Brien said, and keeps them from being able to learn. “Just that simple security of having food over the weekend,” she said, “enables a kid to be a kid in school, and grow the way a kid should grow.”

Top Stories

Tufts Nutrition Top 10

How climate change will affect agriculture and nutrition.

Remaking Main Streets

Working in three very different places, certificate graduates are finding smart ways to make their communities healthier.

Counter Culture

American families are eating out more than ever, but aren’t always making the healthiest choices. Tufts researchers are working with restaurants and parents to change that.

Called to Serve

They wanted to do something good for the world. It became the foundation for a career.

Editor's Picks

Gut Reaction

Can what you eat change your gut microbiome?

Paying Bonuses to Improve Nutrition

Can a strategy from the business world help solve public health problems?

Spending Smarter

Teaching kids to make better snack choices with their own pocket money.

Brain Health Breakthrough

A common infection is linked to Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases.