The mission of the Mountain Lion BackPack Program is to provide elementary children in the Altoona Area School District with food for the weekends when other resources may not be available to them.
In providing school children with food, we hope to nourish their bodies, prepare their minds, and encourage their spirits.
We hope to support the teachers of our school district with this program in that students will be more physically prepared to attend school regularly, focus more intently on their lessons, and demonstrate healthy attitudes.
We hope to be an encouragement to families who are struggling, to both lift a burden and show that their community cares.
We hope to bring our community together in this effort to touch and change lives, serving families not only with food but also with love and compassion.
This mission will be carried out with sincerity and determination and with great respect for those we serve.
The Mountain Lion BackPack Program is “Equipping students to be physically and mentally prepared to learn.” The MLBP Program feeds an average 1,000 Altoona Area Elementary school children every week. The program is part of the national Feeding America Network BackPack Program.
For many students, the meals at school are the only meals they may eat. Many return to school on Monday morning sick, tired, dizzy and unable to focus because of hunger. This is no way to be prepared to learn. The Mountain Lion Backpack Program (MLBP) is not just a feeding program, it is an educational program as well.
To help address their hunger and to better prepare them to learn, the MLBP Program provides students with backpacks of food every Friday for 32 weeks of the school year. The backpacks contain food items for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and drink for over the weekend. Items may include cereal bowls, granola bars, raisins, ramen noodles, fruit cups, oatmeal, tuna, soup, peanut butter, etc. Surveys of both teachers and parents indicate positive change in school attendance, behavior and focus from children participating in the program.
To feed 1,000 students each week, it takes many community volunteers. Each school is ‘adopted’ by a neighborhood church, who helps fill and deliver the backpacks each week. Before the delivery can occur, food is placed in the backpacks at our Beale Avenue warehouse, the former Butterick plant. The volunteers then deliver backpacks to each school on the Thursday nights so the students can have them for Friday to take home.
Funding received will be used to purchase food that will be placed in the backpacks. The average cost is $3 a backpack, which is about $100 for 1 student per year. $2,500 will purchase food for 25 children for 1 school year or 32 weekends.
The Mountain Lion BackPack program is a 501(c)(3) non-profit program through Blair County Community Action.