Backpack Buddies

Did you know, locally, 1 in 5 local children are food insecure?

Souris Valley United Way is the proud fiscal sponsor for Backpack Buddies. The program provides food for school children who might not otherwise have food over the weekend.  Each week volunteers coordinate the purchase of food, package the individual bags, and transport the food to seven local schools.  The food is transported to the school on Thursday's where the teachers discreetly place them in certain backpacks.



Research shows hungry children have poorer mental and overall health, miss more days of school, suffer greater rates of behavioral disorders and are less prepared to learn at school. Backpack Buddies supplies children with nutritious, child-friendly, self-serve food designed to put in a backpack and feed a child over the weekend.

During the 2014 school year, Backpack Buddies was piloted at Sunnyside Elementary School. The program is now in 9 local schools including Sunnyside, McKinley, Roosevelt, Washington, Lewis & Clark, Bell, John Hoeven, Souris River Campus and Jim Hill Middle School.


The program is a success! Parents have expressed their appreciation and the excitement of their children when they bring home their backpack. Teachers have seen changes in both attitudes and work habits of their students.


The program is funded locally by individual donations from community members, corporate gifts, and grants and ran by volunteers. Many local businesses, service clubs, and groups have held local food drives as a way to support the program. No matter how big or small, every donation makes a difference!

Thanks to an amazing partnership between the HomeTown Radio Group and Marketplace Foods, their Summer Food Drive has doubled year after year. During eight weeks of the summer, cashiers will ask you if you'd like to add a Backpack Buddies item to your ticket. Don't worry, you don't have to hand deliver the item to us, however the dollar value of the item will be added to your total and the items will be purchased at a later date when needed for the packing. Thanks to this amazing fundraiser, our community helped the program expand into the nineth school in 2021.

If you're interested in hosting your own food drive, click here, and view the items being packed in this years bags.


The weekly food cost per child is $10 which includes six meals, a couple snack items, and a fresh fruit.

How can I help?!

  • Sponsor a food drive!
  • Make a donation to the program by clicking here!
  • Mail a donation to Souris Valley United Way (Backpack Buddies) 1941 4th St SW, Minot ND 58701
  • Follow us on social media