The following is a list of criteria that should be met for selection into the backpack program. While it is recognized that the needs far exceed the resources, the long range goal of the program is to continue to grow and reach all of the deserving children within Rowan County. These criteria are meant to guide decisions and ensure that a measure of objectivity is applied to the process. It is recognized that the population of students and their situations is fluid and can change at any time during the school year. The program is intended to serve the most desperate children at the school. Children who are believed to be receiving virtually nothing to eat during non-school days, children suspected of possibly being in situations of neglect or self-reliance, and children whose academic and social performance are being severely affected by their circumstances are the children that should be targeted. Heavy reliance upon the input from the teachers and staff who have direct contact with the student is strongly encouraged. Also valuable is the input of the school counselors, social workers, and cafeteria staff at the school.

Observational criteria

• Consistent reports from the student of lack of food in the home
• Consistent requests for food during the school day or reports of hunger during class
• Consistent requests for additional food during school-provided meals or hoarding of food from other students during school-provided meals
• Consistently demonstrated unkempt appearance and significantly untidy hygiene habits
• Specific knowledge of school staff to an acute crisis situation in the child's home

Characteristics of Children who are Hungry

     Physical Appearance: Extreme thinness. Puffy/swollen skin, Chronically cracked or dry lips. Chronically dry and itchy eyes. Spoon shaped fingernails.

     School Performance: Excessive absences and/or tardiness. Repetition of a grade. Chronic illness. Short attention span or inability to concentrate. Chronic behavior problems (hyperactivity, irritability, anxiousness, withdrawn, etc)

     Home Environment: Often cooks own meals or has another sibling who does. Moves frequently. Loss of household income. Family crisis.

Other behaviors worthy of attention

• Rushing food lines due to extreme hunger
• Extreme hunger on Monday morning
• Quickly eating all of the food served and asking for more
• Asking when the next meal/snack will be served
• Regularly asking their teacher for food
• Saving/hoarding/stealing food to take home for themselves and/or a sibling
• Lingering around for or asking for seconds
• Comments about not having enough food at home
• Asking classmates for food they don't want
• Other information regarding the child's home situation that indicates the need for food.


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