USDA employees in Kansas from Rural Development and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service recently visited the Harvesters Distribution Center in Topeka in honor of National Service Day. Harvesters is a food bank that partners with more than 600 nonprofit agencies to provide nutritious food to individuals in 26-counties in northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri.
While at the Harvesters Distribution Center, USDA staff members helped pack 820 backpacks with nutritious snacks for area children. Each week, Harvesters’ BackSnack program provides 15,000 backpacks to low-income children in the service area for the weekend, to combat weekend hunger. Harvesters partners with local volunteers and community partners to pack and distribute the nutritious snacks to students. The snacks have been shown to help students improve grades, attendance, behavior, health, self-esteem, responsibility, and social skills.
More than 66,000 individuals were helped weekly by Harvesters in 2012, which totaled more than 41 million pounds of food and household products distributed to individuals in need. One out of every eight individuals in 26-county region receives assistance from Harvesters’ network with approximately 37 percent of those individuals being children and 8 percent senior citizens.
Through USDA's Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Feeding Program (CSFP), food banks such as Harvesters receive food made available by USDA. USDA assistance accounts for 13 percent of food donations to Harvesters.