Grant check from Publix Super Market Charities

The BackPack Weekend Food Program, Inc. is proud to announce that the program recently
received a grant of $10,000 as one of 57 back pack programs recognized by Publix Super Markets
Charities. This special grant is a part of Publix Super Market Charities’ $5 Million donation to Help
Alleviate Hunger in at least seven states.

Over the past three years, Publix Super Market Charities has contributed more than $11.5
million to hunger related programs. They are committed to meeting the basic needs of the communities
Publix Super Markets serve. “For more than 50 years, we have been nourishing the communities in
which Publix operates, said Carol Jenkins Barnett, President of Publix Super Market Charities. We believe
every child deserves hope, love, and joy. Our Foundation is dedicated to giving these gifts of
nourishment and hope to our communities.” Publix was founded by Mr. George Jenkins who believed
in giving. He wanted his customers and community taken care of. Under the leadership of Ms. Barnett,
Mr. Jenkins’s daughter, Publix Super Markets Charities remains committed to the communities in which
Publix operates. To learn more, visit

The BackPack Weekend Food Program, Inc. is thankful for this Publix commitment to
Gaston County. This grant will help the program continue to provide weekend food for students in the
Gaston County School System who need weekend food during the school year.

(L/R)  Carolyn Niemeyer,Coordinator, Kim Reynolds, Media and Community Relations Mgr.for Publix Super Market Charities.

Community Foundation of Gaston County presents grant check for $15,000.00

The BackPack Weekend Food Program, Inc. in Gaston County is very pleased to announce that it has received a $15,000.00 grant from the Community Foundation of Gaston County.  These generous funds will support providing weekend food to students in the Gaston County School System that are identified as needing weekend food during the school year.

The program is now in the 7th year of operation.  The goal is to provide weekend back packs of food to those students who need the food over the weekend.  In the school year 2016-2017 the program provided over 224,000 meals to over 950 students.  The funds to operate the program come from partner churches and organizations, donations, grants, and fundraisers.  The program is run by volunteers who work in the warehouse to sort the food and volunteers in the many churches and organizations who pack and deliver the food weekly to their partner school.

Carolyn Niemeyer says, “Without the support of the caring people of Gaston County and the many volunteers working with the program it would not be the success that it is today.”  I am proud to live in an area where so many people care about the future of the children.”

The Community Foundation awards annual grants through a competitive application and review process.  “The BackPack Weekend Food Program serves a crucial need in our community by providing food on the weekends for children who are in need.  The Foundation’s Board understands the importance of supplying nutritional meals to students so that they will be able to focus in the classroom,” states Ernest Sumner, President, CFGC,

The Community Foundation of Gaston County is the leading steward of philanthropic giving by connecting donors with community needs to enhance the lives of present and future generations.  The nonprofit organization has invested more than $88 million in grants and scholarships over its 39 –year history.  At its core, the Community Foundation is an organization created with gifts from generous people committed to local causes.  For donors, the Foundation serves as a philanthropic advisor.  For the community, the Foundation serves as a grant maker and civic leader.  Through the support of its donors and fundholders, the Foundation has been able to address some of the community’s most pressing needs, including hunger, housing and education.  For more information, visit

Volunteers, surrounding members of the Community Foundation of Gaston County Board Members,
Fred Jackson and Charlton Torrence presenting a check for $15,000.00

 to Carolyn Niemeyer, Coordinator of the BackPack Weekend Food Program.

Friends of Lawson Foundation Contribution

Mason Carnes representing Friends of Lawson Foundation presenting a check for $2,000 to
Carolyn Niemeyer, Coordinator of the BackPack Weekend Food Program.

Thank You!



BWFP Second Annual Golf Tournament

The BackPack Weekend Food Program

Second Annual Golf Tournament, sponsored by

Toyota of Gastonia.

Carolyn Niemeyer and David Carter

Carolyn Niemeyer and Chris Kosa,
General Manager of Toyota of Gastonia


Congratulations! Tammy Barr

Illuminating Excellence Award – Top 10

Tammy Barr our very own Dietitian receiving this award from Premier.

Kids Who Suffer Hunger In First Years Lag Behind Their Peers In School

Growing up in a hungry household in the first couple of years of life can hurt how well a child performs in school years later, according to a new study.

An estimated 13.1 million children live in homes with insufficient food, according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Many of those children experience hunger during their first few years of life, or their parents are hungry and stressed out about food during those years – the most crucial time for a child’s development.

The new study, published in the latest issue of the journal Child Development, suggests that such early experience of hunger in the family is likely to make those children less ready for kindergarten than their classmates who came from homes with enough to eat. It shows that kids who experienced food insecurity in their first five years of life are more likely to be lagging behind in social, emotional and to some degree, cognitive skills when they begin kindergarten.

And many previous studies have shown “that kids who enter the kindergarten door behind, tend to stay behind. They do not catch up,” says Anna Johnson, a psychologist and an author of the new study.

Johnson and her colleague used data from an older study by the U.S. Department of Education conducted between 2000 and 2006, which followed about 10,700 children born in low-income households in 2000. It surveyed the parents of these children on various aspects of their lives, including the quantity and quality of food in their households.

Johnson says surveyors asked parents a range of questions that are part of a standardized USDA measure for food security, like, “In the last 12 months, did you worry your food would run out before you could buy more? In the last 12 months, could you afford to eat balanced meals? In the last 12 months, were you ever hungry because there wasn’t enough food?”

The surveyors collected the data at different time points in the children’s lives: When they were 9 months old, 2 years old and when they were in preschool. When the children started kindergarten, the scientists tested the kids on their math and reading skills (a measure of their cognitive development). They also worked with the kids’ teachers to assess their ability to pay attention in class, their tendencies to throw tantrums or be hyperactive, and their eagerness to learn (all measures for emotional and social skills).

Analyzing this data, Johnson found that early experience of high levels of hunger in the household strongly correlated with poor performance in kindergarten. And the younger the children were when the family struggled with hunger, the stronger the effect on their performance once they started school.

In other words, Johnson says, “When children were 9 months old, those who experienced food insecurity were more likely five years later, in kindergarten, to have lower reading and math scores than similar low-income 9-month-olds who didn’t experience food insecurity.” They were also more likely to be hyperactive and throw tantrums in the classroom.

Growing up in a hungry family at age 2 had a similarly strong negative effect on children’s social, emotional and cognitive abilities in kindergarten. Hunger experienced at preschool also seemed to affect reading scores and how the children approached learning, but the overall effects were weaker than food deprivation at earlier ages.

“Preschoolers at least are getting some access to food in their preschool classrooms if they go to preschools, or their child care centers,” says Johnson. Little babies and toddlers, on the other hand, don’t have this option.

However, these effects aren’t necessarily because the children themselves went hungry. They could also be an indirect result of parents being hungry, which also affects a child’s development, says Johnson.

Previous research shows that when parents are hungry, they tend to “be irritable, harsh and impatient with their children,” she says. They can also be distracted or depressed. And irritable, distracted and depressed parents engage less with their children.

“They’re not playing games with the children, they’re not getting down to their levels and playing a puzzle and talking about colors, or holding the child in their lap and tickling their feet and singing songs to them,” she says. “All of these things we know to be important for supporting early [brain] development.”

“The findings from the study weren’t surprising, in the sense that they’re consistent with previous research,” says John Cook, the lead scientist at Boston Medical Center’s Children’s Health Watch, a research group that monitors the effects of economic condition and public policies on the health of very young kids. A growing number of studies in neuroscience and social science show that hunger experienced early in life can have serious consequences for a child’s development.

Cook says the strength of the new study is in showing how hunger during specific times in infancy and early childhood can result in subtle but significant differences in learning abilities later in childhood.

“It really highlights the range of effects that food insecurity can have on a child’s readiness to learn, which then sets the tone for their academic attainment, essentially for the rest of their school years,” Cook says.

The findings further reinforce the importance of food assistance programs like SNAP, the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Food and Nutrition Service, says Cook. “Those programs have been proven to be very effective in proving both the food security and the health of school children and enabling them to go to school ready to learn,” he says.

And making sure kids get enough to eat pays societal dividends in the long run, he says, because hunger experienced early in life can really set the trajectory for a child’s “ability to compete in the workforce and to earn enough to be a fully functional member of society.”