As an all volunteer organization, we rely on community members to prepare snack packs, host food drives, and donate to the program. At least once a month we have "packing parties" so people who are unable to come on Tuesday mornings can still participate in preparing snack packs. Due to ongoing health and safety concerns we are limiting our packing parties until further notice.
To enroll a child in the program you can download and sign the enrollment letter and submit it to your child's teacher. The Snack Pack Flyer contains general information as well as a list of food items people can donate to the program. If you prefer to donate with a check please complete the snack pack donation form and mail with your check to The Potsdam Snack Pack Program, 200 Market Street #228, Potsdam, NY 13676. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We usually stock 22 different items in our food pantry. Each week we vary at least one-third of the items in the snack pack.
Fruit cups in plastic containers preferred. Normally sold in 4-pack.
Available during winter months
St. Lawrence County is one of the poorest counties in New York State. According to the most recent statistics provided by the SLC Community Development Program, 27.1% of children under 18 are living in poverty. Each week hundreds of children leave school knowing that there may not be sufficient food at home.
The Potsdam Snack Pack Program was started at Lawrence Avenue Elementary School as a way to meet an identified need. With the support of the Potsdam Lions Club and New Hope Community Church, the program was officially launched on November 4, 2016. For some students, the snack pack provides a little "extra" food to get them through the weekend. For others, it may be a very different story.
The number of students receiving snack packs each week has steadily increased over the past few years, from 40 in 2016 to almost 400 between March and June 2020. At the end of the 2019-2020 school year volunteers prepared a total of 14,829 for local students, including an additional 3,000 during the summer months! The primary reason for the surge was the number of students receiving free meals during the school shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. As more schools opened up to provide onsite learning in September 2020, we have remained flexible to ensure children were continuing to receive snack packs. We're currently providing almost 300 snack packs each week to students from Head Start to the high school level.
Since the launch of the snack pack program we have experienced a growth in support from individuals, local businesses, and service organizations. New Hope Community Church donated a classroom that now functions as our food storage and distribution site. One of our volunteers donated funds to purchase our first shelving unit, and Health Initiative, Inc. awarded us a grant t to purchase a refrigerator, additional shelving, and push cart. We also received financial support from Agway, Canton-Potsdam Hospital, Health Initiative, Inc., GardenShare, Lions Club, New Hope Community Church, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, North Country Savings Bank, BJ's Wholesale, Stewart's Shops, Gamer Craze in Canton, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Potsdam United Methodist Church and numerous individuals. Various groups also hosted food drives and collected donations from local shoppers. As an all-volunteer organization with no overhead, we rely on the donation from the community to purchase food items for the program.
One of the added benefits of overseeing the snack pack program is all the wonderful, caring, and giving individuals I get to meet on a daily basis. We also have a dedicated group of volunteers who work diligently to prepare the snack packs and take care of any incidental issues that may arise. Without their ongoing commitment to the program we would not be able to provide the current level of support to our young students. We're also grateful to all the people who believe in the work that we're doing and care enough to help us serve some of the most vulnerable students in our community. Thank you for your support!
As a member of the Food Bank of Central New York, we are required to have an official food policy that governs the type of items we can include in the snack pack. We are committed to eliminating foods that are high in calories and low in nutrient density. Candy and soda are normally not included in snack packs, and we discourage collecting those items during our food drives.