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Pay it Forward: ‘Backpacks in Bend’ feeds kids


The last thing on any child’s mind when they get to class Monday morning, should be how hungry they are.

“Everyone knows you can’t learn when you’re hungry,” said Amy Fraley, director of Backpacks in Bend.

Backpacks in Bend is a program that, thanks to donations, fills 1,000 packs a week with non-perishable food for kids to take home over the weekend.

“We try to cover all the major food groups, so when you’re looking at a pack, we put in ravioli, which has a serving of vegetables and protein,” Fraley said. “We have pudding, because that’s how we do dairy. We do granola bars for grains, applesauce for fruit, and then fruit snacks, because kids love them.”

It’s a simple solution to combat childhood hunger in Central Oregon.

“This provides a bridge for them and gives them some healthy food and, in a way, sends them off to uncertain environments with kind of like a hug for those long, difficult times,” Janie Teater.

Oran and Janie Teater are good friends with Fraley. The couple understand what this food means to so many kids.

“I know Amy is really diligent about finding bargains and filling the backpacks with nutritious food and making that go a long way,” Oran said.

That’s why the Teaters want to help pay it forward. On behalf of Mid-Oregon Credit Union, Co-Energy Propane and NewsChannel 21, we are paying forward $500. The original nominee was Loren Irving, but unfortunately he couldn’t make it out, so he asked his friends, the Teaters.

We surprised Amy as she delivered packs to Buckingham Elementary School on Thursday.

“You guys are brilliant — I was shocked,” Fraley said. “The holidays are always such a great time, but it always makes you more aware of the need in the community.”

The $500 is enough to feed a child for the entire year.

“We estimate that the cost of the packs is about $400 per kid per year,” Fraley said. “We run all volunteer, so we don’t have any administrative costs — it’s just for food and gas. So it’s just going right back into the community and to the kids.”

With 7,000 kids in Bend-La Pine Schools on the free and reduced lunch program, this money can go a long way in making a difference.

“I know Amy, and she will do marvelous things with this $500, so it’s huge so we’re excited to help facilitate this and this great organization,” Janie Teater said.

If you’d like to volunteer or receive a backpack, call Amy Fraley at 541-419-0501.

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