Backpack program working

GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Enlarged School District has a new program in place that aims to see children get their needed nutrition for the weekend.

Park Terrace Elementary Principal Brian DiPasquale said during Monday’s Board of Education meeting the “backpack program” is going well so far for the district.

The backpack program sees children get to go home with all their meals for the weekend so they come to school on Monday “focused and ready.”

The program currently serves about 15 students, with hopes to expand it to more.

“We really want to expand [the program], but we wanted to start with a number that was manageable,” he said. “It is very manageable. We weren’t sure how many volunteers we were going get, or what the process would look like getting them together, and getting them out to the children and getting [the backpacks] back.”

DiPasquale said the first weeks of the program has run smoothly and there are hopes the program can expand soon. The first backpacks went home just before Thanksgiving break.

The program is housed at Park Terrace, however DiPasquale said teachers and staff from across the district are involved with setting it up each Thursday. The program has children from each elementary school.

DiPasquale said funding came from the district’s food pantry.

“It is really filling a similar need, but we know the food is going directly to the students,” he said.

DiPasquale said Stephanie Cook has been working to help put the program together for the past few months. Cook is an elementary family and community educator and has taken care of such programs as the Community Closet and Family Essentials program.

Board member Vincent Salvione said there are students who are interested in doing things like can drives or getting needed hygiene supplies to help out.

“There are some kids in the middle school and high school that are interested in helping out,” he said.

DiPasquale said as the program grows, the district would like to get help from its student volunteers.

“We are going to need more hands as the program expands,” he said.

Board member Paula Brown-Weinstock said students groups such as prom committee or class of 2018 or 2019 could consider holding an event where a portion of the proceeds go toward the backpack program.

“It is such an important program, and I agree with [Salvione] that there are lots of people who want to help out,” she said. “You may have enough hands right now, but maybe financially you could benefit. It is just a way to ask kids to be conscious of their community members and ways in which they can give back.”