The Backpack Crew was created four years ago after Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of our towns. Hundreds of families in Monmouth County rely on subsidized school meals to provide healthy and nutritious meals. The Backpack Crew began collecting food to ensure that children in Red Bank and Middletown receive food over the weekend when families don’t have access to school meals. Each family is assigned a backpack stuffed with donated spaghetti, tuna, mac and cheese, soup, oatmeal, and other items.
The United Methodist Church of Red Bank and Learning Tree Preschool partnered up to assist the Backpack Crew. “Learning Tree Preschool has always made philanthropic and community outreach a part of our mission,” said Kara Crespo. “This fall, Learning Tree Preschool participated in the Backpack Proves Thanksgiving Food Challenge. We asked our families to donate 50 cans of yams. I am proud to say we surpassed our goal! Each morning, preschoolers arrive at school ready to learn and play. On their way to class, they may deposit food items in our collection bin.Even the youngest can be part of the solution and it’s never too early to talk to our children about ways to give!”
Backpack Crew volunteers sort donations each week and stuff the backpacks, which are then distributed by school nurses. This is just one of the programs that the church and preschool participate in to help the community. The Backpack Crew collects spaghetti, canned pasta sauce, canned tuna, mac and cheese, soup, canned veggies, oatmeal packets, small cereal boxes, granola bars, packets of crackers, small jars of peanut butter, and fruit cups. They also accept gift card donations.