Food for Kids Backpacks

Lift Urban Portland expanded its Food Box program to include the Food for Kids Backpacks program in 2009. It delivers backpacks of food to children living in homeless shelters and transitional housing, or those who depend solely on school meals for primary nutrition needs. We believe that healthy weekend meals means stronger young minds and bodies at school on Monday. We partner with Friendly House and the Project Return after-school program.


How It Started

When we learned about a weekend backpack program in Tillamook County, we decided to replicate that model locally at Chapman Elementary School, where 25% of kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunches during the school week.

All elementary school children in Portland's downtown homeless shelters and transitional housing fall into Chapman's attendance area. While the school provides after-school care, snacks, and tutoring for these kids during the week, our Backpacks program provides a safety net to ensure that children receive nutrition over the weekend.

Watch a Video Testimonial

How It Works

Our Emergency Food Box program provides food for neighbors in need in Northwest and inner downtown Portland. The food is inventoried at our warehouse and boxes are distributed via our pantry. Supplies for the Food for Kids Backpacks program comes from this inventory. We supplement our warehouse with discounted or free staples from the Oregon Food Bank.

Lift Urban Portland volunteers come to our warehouse each week, pack the backpacks with food, and deliver them to Friendly House before kids leave for the weekend. Additionally, the school principal notifies us of other children in need of a food backpack, even if these kids do not live in shelters. The kids return the backpacks on Mondays and a volunteer returns them to the warehouse to repeat the cycle!

Typical Backpacks Foods

  • Nuts
  • Pudding cups
  • Jelly/jam
  • Cup of noodles
  • Fruit cups
  • SpaghettiO’s
  • Fruit snacks (low/no sugar)
  • Boxes of 100% fruit juice
  • Protein/granola bars
  • Tuna fish, canned
  • Chicken, canned
  • Pop Tarts (unfrosted)
  • Crackers
  • Dried fruit, raisin
  • Shelf-stable milk or soy milk
  • Cereal, non-sugar
  • Cans of soup, stew, and chili
  • Snack Packs' cheese & crackers
  • Trail mix

For more volunteer information:
Erin Goldwater, Program Manager
erin@LiftUrbanPortland.org • (503) 221-1224, ext. 105