Addressing weekend hunger: Junior high student Logan Miller and family seek to bring Weekender Backpack program to Boyertown schools

Logan Miller

Logan Miller, a student at Boyertown Junior High West and former student at Pine Forge Elementary, is one day looking to serve his county—and right now he’s trying to help his community.

In preparation for applying to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Logan is looking to showcase his interest in community service by bringing the Greater Berks Food Bank Weekender Backpack program to the Boyertown Area School District.

The program provides backpacks filled with nutritional foods to needy children every Friday during the school year to help get the child through the weekend.

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“It’s enough food to feed a child for the weekend,” Julie explained. “Nutritious and easy [items] that a child can make themselves if necessary.” Crackers, instant oatmeal and yogurt were among some of the options listed. “Some students have parents that are less than involved; this food doesn’t require a lot of preparation. It’s meant to be easily done with little supervision.”

Five out of 7 of the district’s elementary schools qualify for the program according to the food bank. To quality, a school must have 25 percent or higher of the student population which qualifies for free or reduced price school meals. The five schools include: Pine Forge Elementary, Colebrookdale Elementary, Boyertown Elementary, Washington Elementary and Earl Elementary.

According to Logan’s mother, Julie Miller, the family has reached out to Boyertown Superintendent Dr. Richard Faidley for support and they received just that. According to Julie, Faidley stated that while there is no money in this district’s budget—he fully supports the effort and will help in any way he can.

More than a dozen Berks County schools currently participate in the Weekender Backpack program, according to the Greater Berks Food Bank website.

It takes approximately $9,500 to fill all the backpacks for one school weekly for an entire school year. Logan’s ultimate goal is to raise $50,000 in order to feed all of the qualifying students at all 5 qualifying elementary schools for the entire school year.

According to Julie, they plan to fundraise for as long as it takes and will bring it to one school at a time if need be. She added that schools can decline the program, but she’s happy to have the district’s support. The family’s goal right now is to get the word out about the program.

There are still things that need to be worked out, such a place to store food and available volunteers to fill the backpacks. The bags would be filled each Thursday to be taken on Friday; students would return them each Monday.

“We’ve never done fund-raising before; hopefully we can start it and bring to a handful of kids.”

Logan did all of the research regarding the program and gathered information from the food bank about Boyertown’s qualifications. Following his lead, his family became involved in the effort.

They have set up a donation site to try and raise enough money to bring the program to as many students in the district as possible. Donations can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/9zdjiw.

Julie also made mention of the fact that there is no program during the summer months and was curious whether families took advantage of the various programs and pantries. Looking ahead, she would like to address the hunger that many students likely experience when school is out on summer break.

“Go big or go home,” she said, in reference to the goals ahead.

About the Author

Rebecca Blanchard

Rebecca won't hesitate to tell you that she has enjoyed writing throughout her entire life. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, she graduated from the professional writing program of Kutztown University in 2012. Rebecca joined Berks-Mont Newspapers in July of 2012 as editor of The Boyertown Area Times following her internship with the newspaper. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling and cooking gluten-free foods. Reach the author at rblanchard@berksmontnews.com or follow Rebecca on Twitter: @boyertowntimes.