main content starts hereWeekend Backpack program, Food Pantry aim to meet students’ needs

| November 1, 2018
Nine people stand behind cart containing grocery bags filled with food

Draper staff members helped pack bags of food for Weekend Backpack program.

Members of the Mohonasen Central School District staff have committed more than $6,000 to the 2018-19 Weekend Backpack program and high school food pantry. The programs  help students whose families experience food insecurity or hunger.

A total of 45 employees made donations through payroll deductions, while additional staff members made direct contributions to the programs.

“It’s one thing to say we’re a family, but it’s another thing altogether for teachers and staff to take money out of their own paychecks to show we’re a family. I couldn’t be more proud of the Mohon Family coming together to meet this fundamental need for our students,” said Superintendent Shannon Shine.

Shine said he hopes the Mohonasen community will also support these efforts. (See How can I help? below.)

“Research and common sense reveal that hunger negatively impacts a child’s academic performance and behavior in school. Hungry children have lower math scores and are more likely to repeat a grade, come to school late or skip days entirely,” said Shine. “By addressing this very basic need for students, we are providing them foundational support for success. It is not enough to say we care; we must demonstrate that we care.”

This year, Mohonasen has partnered with the Schenectady Foundation and the City Mission to expand the reach of the Weekend Backpack program to include both elementary and middle school students. In addition, the district is working with the Regional Food Bank to stock the high school food pantry to meet the needs at the secondary level.

About 25 elementary school-aged children are currently served by the Weekend Backpack program; however, administrators know the need is far greater.

According to data reported to the New York State Education Department (NYSED), 40 percent – or more than 1,000 Mohonasen students – are reported as food insecure. The USDA defines food insecurity as a state in which “consistent access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money and other resources at times during the year.” The data is compiled based on the number of students who are eligible for free- and reduced meals.

“While not every student who meets federal guidelines for free and reduced meals also requires weekend meals, we are aware that a number of Mohonasen students do have such a need,” said Shine. “The contributions from our employees gets us closer to meeting that need.”

How can I help?

Members of the Mohonasen community can make direct donations to the Schenectady Foundation Weekend Backpack program, which is geared to K-8 students, or the Regional Food Bank/Mohonasen High School Food Pantry, which helps students in grades 9-12.

Weekend Backpack

A weekend backpack typically includes a Stewart’s milk card, Stewart’s egg card, fresh fruit, bread, breakfast items, canned fruit and vegetables, and health snacks and entrees. It costs $6 to fill a weekend backpack with food, or approximately $200 to provide a weekend backpack for one child for a full school year.

If you are able to support this important cause, you can do so by mail or online as follows:

Mail a check to the Weekend Backpack Fund, with a note in the memo field that indicates the donation is for Mohonasen:

Weekend Backpack Fund
c/o the Schenectady Foundation
376 Broadway, 2nd Floor
Schenectady, NY 12305

You can donate online through the Schenectady Foundation website. Please designate Mohonasen Central School District in the appropriate drop-down menu.

High School Food Pantry

Donate to the Regional Food Bank online at

To donate to the High School Food Pantry through the Regional Food Bank:

Make checks payable to the Regional Food Bank of NENY, with Mohonasen High School noted in the memo field of your check. Mail to: Regional Food Bank, 965 Albany-Shaker Road, Latham, NY 12110

To make a donation online, visit the Regional Food Bank website, click “Donate Now” and follow instructions. Be sure to write Mohonasen High School Food Pantry in the notes field.