Community Backpack Project

Weekend Meals to Take Home

The Community Backpack Project (CBP) is an outreach program of the Self-Help Closet & Pantry of Des Plaines, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Elementary students in Community Consolidated School District 62 who are in need can take home a backpack full of food to last through the weekend. These are students who participate in the free or reduced cost breakfast and lunch program at school during the week.

Weekend Snacks for Kids Newly-Arrived to Des Plaines

The Community Backpack Project has committed to providing weekend snack bags for our new friends from Venezuela who are living in Des Plaines. Each weekend, we are providing snacks for about 120 children who are here with their families. The snacks are filled with "kid calories" to help them as they adjust to their new lives in the US.

If you would like to help in this outreach, we could use the following:

  1. Juice boxes

  2. Fruit cups

  3. Fruit snacks

  4. Individually packaged cookies, or snack crackers

  5. Granola bars, whole-grain breakfast bars

  6. Jello cups or pudding cups

  7. Individually packaged trail mix

  8. Individually packaged pretzels or chips

  9. 1-gallon sized, plastic "zipper" bags

Drop donations off at the Pantry during the hours below or in red barrels around town marked with "CBP."

How CBP Works

School social workers communicate with the CBP on the number of backpacks they need each week. Only the social workers know who the students are. The CBP fills the backpacks with easy-to-prepare meals such as oatmeal, canned soup, instant pasta dishes, canned protein, applesauce, snacks and juice. Volunteers deliver the backpacks to each school and they are given to the students to take home and then to return empty to be filled for the next weekend.

If your child receives free or reduced meals at school and is not yet a part of the CBP, please contact your school to ask how to sign up. The program is free.

Donate $19 to feed a child for the weekend or $750 for an entire school year.

Food and Education Go Hand-in-Hand

Children whose families are food insecure may only be eating through school meal programs. Students who are hungry are sick more often, miss more school days and fall behind in their education. They may find it hard to concentrate and may fall asleep in class. If a child is hungry, they may lack energy to play with friends and have fun - activities that also help them thrive. Just a little bit of food helps break this cycle so kids can just be kids.

women's basketball players from Oakton Community College pose on the court with their donations

The Oakton College women's basketball team collected food donations at their home games for the Community Backpack Project.

How You Can Help

The CBP currently serves more than 150 students in the school district. We need volunteers to shop, shelve, pack and deliver food.

We also need financial support to restock our shelves each week. Make donations through our secure PayPal link (indicate CBP in the memo), or mail a check payable to Community Backpack Project.

Whether you are an organization, a business or an individual, you can help us meet the needs of our students.

Please contact CBP Coordinator, Jana Haas at 847-951-5111.

Current Donation Needs

If you would like to donate food items to the CBP, you can bring them to the Pantry during donation hours or on Thursdays between 12-4 p.m. You can also drop a bag of items in red or blue barrels around Des Plaines. Please include a slip of paper marked "CBP" with your donation so we can be sure the items get in the backpacks.

Suggested items - please no glass jars!

  • Single serve breakfast cereal

  • Instant oatmeal packets

  • Pancake mix (just add water variety)

  • Canned red beans

  • One-pound bags of rice

  • Pasta and pasta sauce (in cans or plastic jars)

  • Canned soup

  • Canned pasta (ravioli, beef-a-roni, etc.), stew or chili

  • Canned tuna, beef or chicken

  • Peanut butter and jelly (in plastic jars)

  • Fruit cups, pudding cups fruit snacks

  • Individually-wrapped snacks and chips

Thank you!