Glenn Foundation Awards BackPack Program $10K

(L to R) Richard Blackburn, Board Member; Charles W. Gallman, Chairperson; Dallas Butler, BWFP Executive Director; Ann Davis, Board Member


During the 2017-18 school year, more than 900 students did not have to worry about being hungry on the weekend thanks in part to the BackPack Weekend Food Program, Inc. (BWFP). The BackPack program is able to provide a consistent supply of weekend meals to students in need because of generous grants like the one from the Glenn Foundation.

“I cannot express enough how grateful I am to have grant funding available to community nonprofits like the BWFP,” said Dallas Butler, Executive Director.  “Thank you, Carrie E. and Lena V. Glenn Foundation, and its Board of Directors and Team for your generous financial support of $10,000. This funding will go toward making sure children do not have to be hungry on the weekend during the school year; Rather, they can come to school on Mondays with fuller stomachs, more alert and ready to take on the week. Thank you for believing in what we do!”


Walking a Mile in Each Other’s Shoes

Volunteer Spotlight: Sue Johnson

I met Sue about a year ago at my first warehouse Pull Order day, along with about 25 other volunteers. I didn’t know a lot of volunteer names; only a few familiar faces from my time volunteering with the program before I assumed my role as Executive Director in 2018. I soon learned that Sue, like other “veteran” volunteers, had a regular spot in the warehouse. She took up her station by the Dinty Moore products, green beans and peas and carrots. For many months, I associated volunteers with their “regular” food item section to help me learn their names. I got to see Sue’s work up close because she was positioned in front of the conveyor belt where all the food gets placed before it reaches the end of the line for final counting and sorting. Soft spoken, Sue was always focused, making sure each order was accurate when she placed it on the line.   

After a full year with the BackPack Weekend Food Program (BWFP), I don’t need to use the food item association tool to help with names. I know our volunteers and adore all of them, each with their own distinct personalities and their shared passion for the children we serve.

Sue has become a dear volunteer to me and is also our primary contact for First Presbyterian Church-Belmont, BWFP’s partner for East Gaston High School. Sue has first-hand knowledge of the hunger issue among students in Gaston County; she retired as a teacher from Lowell Elementary School in 2014. Sue loved teaching but felt it was time to retire so she could do things she couldn’t do working full-time, such as volunteering. She told me a lot about how she spends retirement, much of which is through volunteering for the BWFP, Habitat for Humanity and her church. I asked Sue to choose her favorite place to meet for our “interview.” In true Sue fashion, she suggested we walk and talk at Seven Oaks Preserve in Belmont. For about two hours on a Friday afternoon, Sue and I exchanged life stories, empathized over similar back problems and connected on a deeper level over our passion for serving others.

Sue was instrumental in getting First Presbyterian Belmont on board as a partner with the BWFP. She heard about the program through an acquaintance at church and was the chair of the mission ministry at the time. Sue reached out to the BWFP founder and decided to volunteer at the warehouse to get a deep dive understanding of the operation. That was four years ago, and she’s still volunteering today. Staying busy and connected with people is important to Sue, although she said after our hike that she was looking forward to some “down” time.

In addition to volunteering, Sue has started raising Monarch butterflies at home. She explained that these beautiful creatures are nearly on the endangered species list due to land development resulting in a loss of their habitat and milkweed food sources, heightened use of pesticides and climate change. She got interested in Monarch butterflies after some research and is now teaching others about the breeding process and takes milkweed to Lowell Elementary where students get hands-on breeding experience. The Monarch Butterfly is referred by many as the most beautiful butterfly or the “king of butterflies,” thus, acquiring the name “Monarch.” Monarch butterflies go through four generations each year.

What I found most fascinating about the Monarch is that each year, the fourth generation travels up to 2,500 miles, about 100 miles each day, from Canada and parts of the US to the same location where their ancestors went using their own internal GPS. Both Sue and I agreed that this is nothing short of miracle of Mother Nature.

I think we can learn a lot from Sue and the Monarch butterfly. Like Monarchs, Sue has strength and determination to pursue her goals, which tend to focus a lot on helping others. She has an innate instinct to appreciate the beauty surrounding her, hence her love for nature and hiking. But I believe Sue appreciates a beauty that extends beyond the physical; rather, a beauty that can only be seen through the heart. Thank you, Sue, for finding it within yourself to follow your passion by encouraging others to find a similar path and purpose in life.


 Are you a business looking for an opportunity to give back to your community? This is your chance. Every month through the end of the school year, the BackPack Weekend Food Program (BWFP) is opening up its warehouse to local businesses to volunteer their time with a “HungerTakeover” day. Get a behind-the-scenes access pass to the BWFP operation and a chance to pull up your sleeves to help others in need. There is something transformative about being able to touch the food that goes into a backpack and knowing you are making a difference in a child’s life.

 In addition to a hands-on experience at our warehouse, we want to tell our community about the great work you are doing! Join us in cross-promoting your “HungerTakeover” day on social media. Feel free to post photos and information about your business and employees on Facebook and Instagram using hashtag: #HungerTakeover2019-20. Your volunteers will also walk away with a t-shirt and promo video!


Senator Harrington Visits BackPack Warehouse

Senator Kathy Harrington visited the BackPack Weekend Food Program (BWFP) warehouse on Tuesday to personally thank volunteers with the program and roll up her sleeves to help pull food orders for nearly 800 students. Each month during the school year, volunteers assemble at the BWFP warehouse to organize food items for partners to pick up. Partners represent churches, local businesses, households and community groups. Partners take food items from the warehouse once a month, pack individual food bags and deliver to students at schools each week to take home on the weekend.

Like other nonprofits, the BWFP is sustainable because of its more than 500 volunteers scattered throughout Gaston County who support the program through packing, delivering food and generous financial giving.

“Indispensable to the BWFP program are its volunteers and countless volunteer hours committed to making sure students in need have enough food to eat on the weekend,” said Dallas Butler, Executive Director. “The number of volunteers’ hands that touch the food items before they ever reach the hands of our students is a remarkable testimony to the abundance of kindness in this community. We are so grateful to Senator Harrington and many others who have a heart for this program and the students’ lives it is impacting.” 

The BWFP provides nutritious weekend meals to students K-12 in Gaston County Schools. Between 800 to 1,000 students receive food on the weekend through the program during the school year.

Target Circle Charitable Giving

We are honored and excited to announce that we have been chosen to participate in a special charitable giving campaign, sponsored and funded by Target. And you have the chance to help direct a portion of Target’s donation to us!

Thank you for your support, and we encourage you to share your support for us (and your thanks to Target) on social media throughout the duration of the voting!
thanks to Target) on social media throughout the duration of the voting!

Now through July 7, 2019, vote for us through the Target Circle program to help determine how Target’s donation will be divvied up. Find out more about Target Circle here:

We’re asking our supporters to help us make the most of this incredible opportunity. Every vote counts to help us receive a portion of the available Target funds as we continue our mission to feed students in need on the weekends in Gaston County Schools.

Don’t forget, as you earn more votes, you can keep voting multiple times during the campaign!

Offering Hope and a Brighter Future

From now until April 22, 2019, YOU can help eliminate the chance of a child going hungry on the weekend with a donation to the BackPack Weekend Food Program, Inc. (BWFP) through the Gaston Community Foundation Run 19. Your tax-deductible contribution will be matched by a percentage at the end of the campaign (4/22/19). Click HERE to donate to the BWFP and be an agent of change in the lives of children in Gaston County.

When you think about childhood hunger, we often envision impoverished countries and images of malnourished children, but childhood hunger is a REAL and SERIOUS problem in our own community. Hunger affects more than just a child’s physical health; it impacts their social and emotional well-being. Children who face hunger on the weekend often live in a dark world of hopelessness.

But, you can help change this trajectory with a donation to the cause. For only $350, you can help provide weekend meals to a student for an entire school year. Any dollar contribution is going to make a difference. In fact, your donation of any amount could mean the difference between a child having to worry about where they get their next meal AND coming to school less anxious, more alert and ready to learn. No child should have to go hungry on the weekend.

Help us feed our community’s children in need and offer a brighter tomorrow.

Publix Charities Helps Feed Hungry Children

Publix Charities came out to the BackPack Weekend Food Program, Inc. to present the organization with a check worth $10,000. This money will go to help purchase food necessary to feed students in need during the 2019-10 school year.

$30K Awarded to the BackPack Program Will Feed Weekend Meals to Students in Need During the 2018-19 School Year

The BackPack Weekend Food Program, Inc. (BWFP) will continue its mission of feeding children in need through weekend food bags thanks to the CaroMont Health Foundation.

“The CaroMont Health Foundation has been so generous with their grant funding in support of the BWFP for a number of years,” said Dallas Butler, Executive Director. “This grant will support the great momentum the program has built in the past eight years and its focus on feeding hungry children and giving them a better promise of tomorrow.”

Grant money will go toward the purchase of food items that constitute three separate menus for elementary, and middle and high schools students. Menus are created by a dietitian at CaroMont Health each year to ensure students are receiving a nutritionally-balanced meals for two and three-day weekends.

Money received this grant cycle is allocated to the purchase of food items for the remaining 2018-2019 school year beginning in January. Students in the program will receive food bags through June 2019. Food items are purchased a month in advance under CaroMont’s Premier purchasing power with US Foods. Food is shipped each month to the BWFP’s warehouse where it is stored and dispersed to partners who have agreed to fund a certain number of Gaston County students at a school for a year.
The BWFP also purchases food items from the Gastonia Aldi.

During the 2017-2018 school year, the BWFP received 41,401 pounds of food, which served 198,010 weekend meals to hungry children in Gaston County Schools.

Community Foundation Grant Awarded



Gastonia, NC – BackPack Weekend Food Program (BWFP) is pleased to announce it has received
a $15,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Gaston County. These funds will support
the mission of the program, which is to provide nutritionally-balanced meals to children in need on the
Founded in 2011 by Carolyn Niemeyer, the BWFP has evolved into a nearly $500,000 project serving
school-aged children in Gaston County Schools. In eight years, more than 1.4 million meals have been
served to students in grades K-12.
“We are so grateful to the Community Foundation Board of Directors for their financial support once
again this year,” said Dallas Butler, Executive Director. “This grant will ensure that hungry children will
not have to worry about their next meal on the weekend and can come to school better nourished,
more alert and ready to learn.”
The Community Foundation awards annual grants through a competitive application and review