For the past 11 years, Topeka North Outreach has provided weekend meal sacks to students in Seaman Schools and at Quincy and State Street Elementary Schools from USD 501. In 2016, the organization passed out its 100,000th food sack through Project Backpack which provides weekend nutrition to students who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program.

Topeka North Outreach is one of seven food banks supported by Project Topeka. When it learned that Topeka North Outreach lost an important grant, Project Topeka’s board members voted to provide the organization with a check to cover half the amount of the grant.

Project Backpack volunteers fill 500 weekly backpacks with school supplies, hygiene items and food sacks containing nine to 10 food  items with macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, microwavable bowl meals, fruit, shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, hot cereal, protein bars, cold cereal, cheese and crackers and other items to tide them over the weekend. It is well-documented that children who go hungry on weekends take days to catch up to their peers during the school week.

Teresa Gartner, vice president of Topeka North Outreach, told Project Topeka board members of children who hide their backpacks when they get home, the food is so precious. At Quincy and State Street Elementary Schools, better than 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunches. The overall rate for USD 501 is 76.68 percent. Numbers for other districts are: Shawnee Heights 36.87 percent, Seaman 36.56 percent, Auburn-Washburn 34 percent and Silver Lake 21.29 percent.

North Topeka Outreach provides 500 food sacks per week during the year and 250 during the summer for a total of 22,500 per year. Volunteers meet at 6 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at the Mathes Learning Center at Lyman and Kansas. New volunteers are welcome.

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Project Topeka Affiliated Food Banks

Doorstep, Inc.  •  Fellowship & Faith Ministries, Inc.  •  I-Care, Inc.  •  Let's Help
The Salvation Army  •  Topeka North Outreach  •  Topeka Rescue Mission