Backpacks of Love expands into Buckingham

Published 3:56 pm Monday, September 7, 2015


There will be fewer hungry children in Buckingham County over the weekends this year thanks to Backpacks of Love’s (BPOL) expansion into the county’s elementary and primary schools.

BPOL, founded in 2011, is committed to reducing hunger in school-age boys and girls by providing backpacks of food for the weekends.

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“We found out through the school administrations, that the need there is great,” said BPOL’s Acting Manager and Director Gloria Couch. The first delivery of food to the schools was in mid-August, she said.

According to a 2014 state Department of Education national school lunch program free and reduced price eligibility report, the total free and reduced percentage the division is about 69 percent.

Once a week, the Powhatan-based organization brings proteins, fruits, vegetables, beverages, snacks and breakfast items for students to take home with them for nourishment on Saturdays and Sundays.

According to Couch, BPOL now provides 30 backpacks each to each school. “That number will increase, but … this is kind of an initial trial just to get us going there.”

BPOL — also providing food in Cumberland — is seeking to expand into Prince Edward, she said.

“In many cases, this would be the only food they would eat for the entire weekend,” states a BPOL program document. “The community has responded very generously and the future is bright.”

BPOL, combined with the support from over 19 local churches, will allow the primary school to serve more children than ever with food for the weekend, said Primary School Principal Pennie Allen. “Our goal is to send 50 backpacks home each Friday at the primary school to ensure that our children in Buckingham do not go hungry!”

Elementary School Principal Cindy O’Brien applauded the program.

“We are so thankful to them because we have such a need here at the elementary school, and we have a lot of students that will benefit from the program,” she said.

O’Brien said that it’s obvious that students can’t learn if they’re hungry. “This program definitely helps to make sure that students have additional food or nutrition at home that they may not have otherwise.”

Because the packs are delivered discreetly, BPOL doesn’t actually get to meet any of the students, Couch said. “However, we have heard through the administration personnel that their students are very grateful, appreciative, thankful and blessed to have Backpacks of Love in their life! Without BPOL’s program, they would have little to no food for the weekend. It is fuel for the student’s ability and readiness to learn on Monday mornings,” she said.

Since it’s founding, BPOL has provided over 19,000 packs in the region, which equates to over 115,000 meals.

For more information on the program, to volunteer or to donate, call (804) 598-2723 or visit