Homeless and Travelers Aid Society kicks off weekend backpack program

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Thursday, the Homeless and Travelers Aid Society of the Capital District is celebrating an expansion of a program that aims to feed the minds of local students in need.

Students from low-income families have plenty of healthy food options in school each week, but the weekends can be a different story. The HATAS backpack program aims to help with that

“This program operates during the school year, the problem is children go home for the weekend, they don’t have that free breakfast, they don’t have that free lunch, they’re coming back Monday not ready to learn,” said HATAS Executive Director, Liz Hitt. 

The backpacks are filled with plenty of brain food including fresh fruit, healthy snacks, milk and bread. Studies have shown that without this nourishment, student performance is affected.

“Children have behavioral problems, they have absences, they have a hard time concentrating and they fall behind,” Albany School District Interim Superintendent, Kimberly Young Wilkins, said.

“It makes sense right, if you’re hungry you’re more disruptive, you tend not to be in school as often and your test scores are going to be lower,” said Hitt.

Last year, HATAS distributed over 3,000 backpacks to Albany schools. With the support of local businesses and individuals, this year they are able to double their weekly distribution.

“Before today, we were only doing 215 backpacks, today we were thrilled to announce that we will be distributing 455 backpacks,” said Hitt.

The bags will be distributed to qualifying students at every one of Albany’s schools, K-8.

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