History: This program was started as a senior project for Harris County High School by student Katelyn Flynn. Her mother is a teacher at Park Elementary and had noticed that some of her students weren’t getting enough food from Friday lunch at school to Monday breakfast at school. Katelyn put the whole program together after hearing about a similar program from a family member.
Katelyn approached churches and organizations to support the program with food and financial donations. For months, she collected food out of her home until she ran out of room. In the spring of 2016, Katelyn approached St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, one of the sponsoring churches, about the possibility of storing the food since St. Nicholas is close to HCHS and Park Elementary, making it easy for students to do the work. St. Nicholas also helps the program with financial oversight.
Before Katelyn graduated in 2016, she devised a succession plan for other high school students to take over. The program is now run by Emily King and Katelyn’s younger brother, Grant Flynn, as well as other students at HCHS. Each Thursday, the students come and pack up back packs with enough food for the weekend. They deliver them to the schools and the school counselors distribute them to maintain confidentiality of the families and students who need them. During school breaks, they pack bins of food for the whole week and distribute them.
St. Nicholas, Pine Mountain First United Methodist Church, Pine Mountain Baptist Church, Friendship Baptist Church, Front Porch Gang, Adient US, LLC in West Point are all supporters of the Back Snacks project.
Park Elementary has 19 families who receive back packs each week. They just started at Pine Ridge Elementary and are doing 10, but expect to do about 20-25 each week by the end of the year. Emily and Grant hope to expand to other schools and are prepared to take on the volume.
There are many back pack programs across the nation, but they are all independent. Feeding the Valley, the food bank in Columbus where students are now getting food, has a dedicated cache of food specifically for such programs.