Last summer, the Panther Paws Project was able to supply 109 students with a backpack full of school supplies and community resources. We would like to be able to match or exceed that again this year. So, if you would like to request a backpack full of school supplies for your child, Read on!
History and Philosophy of the PHCS Backpack Program
Our mission began in 2012 as a way to provide homeless students and their families with healthy meals and snacks during emergencies, as well as on long weekends and vacations. Since 2013, the PHCS Panther Paws Project Backpack Program mission continues to include a commitment to help provide nutritious meals and snacks for students and their families at home and at school, to supplement food assistance provided by the free/reduced breakfast and lunch program at the school.
We strive to provide emergency food for families in need, as well as for McKinney-Vento doubled up temporarily housed families and unaccompanied McKinney-Vento youth who are not living at home. The Covid-19 economic downturn has made our mission even more important. Since the start of the pandemic, many families have suffered ever more severe economic hardships. This has heightened the importance of our program to be able to support the families and students in our community. The pandemic is declining in numbers and economic impact, but very few have ended their involvement, and request for food to supplement meals have increased by 10%.
Donated funds are used to provide needed food for long weekends, vacations, major holidays and during any emergencies throughout the school year, as well as offering an end of school year summer vacation package. Vouchers to local food growers and gift cards to grocery stores are also given to participants at select times throughout the school year.
The 7-12th grade Guidance Office keeps a supply of quick and easy food, individually wrapped granola bars, and other nutritional snacks for students who come in and express their hunger. In addition, we have created a snack cupboard, where elementary teachers can get snacks for the students in their class who are not able to bring snacks from home.