How To: Backpack Buddies

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How To:  BackPack Buddies

HappyHealthy Supports Backpack Buddies

  • Many elementary-age children go home Friday afternoons with no access to healthy foods and balanced meals over the weekend.
  • Churches, community organizations, food pantries, and others throughout our state help these children by participating in the Backpack Buddies program.
  • HappyHealthy invites you to join us and help provide healthy choices to bridge the weekend food gap.

Here's how to help:

  • Donate quantities of our recommended items to participating organizations in your community
  • Start a Backpack Buddies program and pack the weekly bags for children who have qualified for the program

Items in each pack should include:

  • Kid-friendly (no glass jars, no large cans)
  • Individually packaged or small and light enough to carry
  • Shelf-stable
  • Easy to prepare, even without a stove or other equipment
  • Nutritious grains, vegetables, fruits, proteins, and dairy
  • Each pack should be in a gallon size zip-top clear plastic bag
  • Each bag should weigh 3 -3.5 pounds so it can easily slip into the child’s backpack and be easy to carry


  • Whole graham crackers
  • Plain oatmeal
  • Grits
  • Pretzels
  • Whole grain cereal


  • Tomato sauce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Vegetable soup
  • Canned vegetables:
    • Peas
    • Corn
    • Green beans
    • Carrots
    • Mixed vegetables


  • Small fresh apples
  • Large fresh oranges
  • Applesauce
  • Raisins
  • Canned fruit or fruit cup (in 100% juice or light syrup)


  • Tuna, salmon, or chicken (canned or packets)
  • Peanut butter
  • Pecans
  • Peanuts
  • Beans – cooked or canned
    • Kidney
    • Pinto
    • Black
    • Lentils
    • Navy


  • Shelf-stable low-fat milk


The following amounts are suggested for elementary-aged school children to compare to school breakfasts, lunches, and snacks:

In order to meet the ½ of the recommended nutrition needs for the weekend, each backpack should include:

  • 5 ounces Grains
  • 2 cups Vegetables
  • 1.5 cups Fruit
  • 4 ounces Protein
  • 3 cups Milk

So get packing! Enjoy the rewards of helping children have the nutritious food they need over the weekend.

It's the HappyHealthy way!

This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.