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Backpack Lunch Program Helps Feed Kids in Need

During a community health course and clinical, nursing student Whitney Thomas and seven of her classmates conducted a community needs assessment at Faubion School, a K-8 public school just a block from Concordia University in northeast Portland. Their findings shocked them.

“Food security,” which means, in a nutshell, having access to a basic supply of food that meets dietary needs, emerged as one of Faubion students’ major concerns. Digging further, Whitney learned that Oregon and New Mexico have the hungriest kids in the country. It is estimated that nearly one in three Oregon children are “food insecure,” meaning they don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. .

“They’re kids,” says Whitney. “Everyone deserves an opportunity to learn. But when you come to school hungry and tired, you’re not prepared for successful learning. We are preparing to be nurses, and part of nursing is being a connector. We identify the needs, then connect people in need with people who have resources..

Feeding the hungry, one child at a time.

Seeing that food security was a major concern at Faubion, Whitney worked with Concordia’s Nursing Club to find and create resources. First up, a bake sale that raised over $200. Then, under the mentorship of Marilyn Mauch – founder of the Northeast backpack Lunch Program – a system was put in place that provided two weekend lunches to Faubion students who might otherwise go without..

“My hope is that the Concordia backpack Lunch Program will grow,” says Whitney, preparing to graduate in May, then begin her nursing career at Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford, Oregon. .

Broader community connections are already in the works, between Faubion’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), St. Michael’s Church, the Concordia Neighborhood Association, and local businesses. “No child should go hungry, and if there’s something we can do about it as nurses – and students – then we should,” says Whitney Thomas. And thanks to her making connections, we’re one step closer to that goal.

Approved list of items to donate:

  • Nature Valley Granola Bars
  • Fiber One Granola Bars
  • CapriSun 100% Juice
  • Kirkland 100% Juice
  • Treetop No Sugar Added Applesauce
  • Dole 100% Juice Fruit Cups

Drop-off Locations:

St. Michaels Lutheran Church
6700 NE 29th Ave. Portland, OR 97211
Accepts items all year:
Monday - Friday, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Sunday 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Plaza Hair Center
15525 SW 116th Ave. King City, OR 97224
February 3 – 17, 2015
Monday – Saturday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Oregon Food Bank Headquarters – Portland 
7900 N.E. 33rd Drive, Portland, OR 97211 (503-282-0555)
February 3 – 17, 2015
Monday – Friday, 8:00 am  - 5:00 pm

  • Donations of 2 grocery bags or fewer can be brought into the main entrance and dropped off.  
  • Donation of 3 or more grocery bags (or boxes!) can be brought to the warehouse dock door at the far right of the warehouse building, door #8.

Oregon Food Bank West – Beaverton
1870 N.W. 173rd Ave., Beaverton, OR 97006 (503-439-6510)
February 3 – 17, 2015
Monday – Friday, 8:00 am  - 5:00 pm

KGW Studios
1501 SW Jefferson Street Portland, OR 97201
February 3 – 17, 2015
Monday – Friday, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

  • Donations of 2 grocery bags or fewer can be brought into the main entrance and dropped off. 
  • Larger donations should be dropped off at the west end of the north side of the building (go left through parking lot around the side of the building.


Email your questions to:

Learn More:

Learn more about the Backpack Lunch Program.

Learn more about our Nursing program.