It was a year of new beginnings and growth in 2022 for Backpack Buddies of Metro Atlanta. The year started with an idea to gather, remove obstacles, and grow the impact of 19 religious and civic organizations - the “Community Buddies” - who were serving roughly 785 children a week across 24 schools.
As 2022 draws to a close, the umbrella organization Backpack Buddies of Metro Atlanta has made some tremendous strides in its mission. In providing collective food sourcing, collective food storage, and collective fundraising for its Community Buddies, Backpack Buddies has been able to nearly double its weekly output, from serving roughly 785 kids per week to feeding approximately 1,500 kids each week.
Historically, Community Buddies were spending upwards of $5, $6, even $8 per child per weekend. With Backpack Buddies’ increased efficiency, that figure has dropped to roughly $3.50 per child.
Thanks to $225K+ raised in donations and grants, Backpack Buddies has been able to secure and outfit a storage and distribution center in Dunwoody, fund vital staff, invest in software crucial to operating efficiently, and source the large volumes of food required to attack Atlanta’s childhood hunger gap.
Beyond money, the community has pitched in with over 3,000 hours of support, making it possible to receive, organize, pull, distribute, pack, and deliver nearly 100,000 pounds of food to undernourished children in the metro.
None of this could be done without the support of all of you and the partnership of some amazing organizations, all who’ve lent a hand in one way or another, and are worth recognizing in turn:
CITY OF DUNWOODY...
for an incredible Ribbon Cutting ceremony with Mayor Deutsch, as well as a much-needed $15,000 grant, secured through the help of Jewish Family & Career Services.
FOOD SOURCING PARTNERS...
who are absolutely crucial to acquiring the volume of food so desperately needed to feed the children - Midwest Food Bank, Atlanta Community Food Bank, and Fountain of Hope.
in local outlets including the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta Jewish Times, the Reporter Newspapers, the Dunwoody Crier/Milton Herald/Johns Creek Hearld, Generosity Magazine, What’s up Dunwoody Podcast, WSB-AM, Fox 5 Atlanta, and CW69.
ARCHITECTING OUR IMAGE...
DKS Design, Totally PR, High Mileage Communications, and Bright Orange all played a role in designing our imagery, website, and supporting our public relations and marketing efforts.
Upbeat Entertainment for producing a very successful, inaugural Upbeat Life 5K, with all proceeds ($5,700) going to Backpack Buddies. Jeckil Promotions for designating Backpack Buddies as a beneficiary during one of its monthly distributions of a portion of revenues to select charities. Renasant Bank for sponsoring the reusable plastic bins we provide to our Community Buddies each week.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
Carvana, Adler Complete Chiropractic, and Vanderlyn Elementary School, for organizing food drives on our behalf.
The Alliance Theater for including us in its community outreach program, enabling us to provide theater tickets to thank the school counselors, volunteers, and Community Buddies who work tirelessly to serve our mission.
Chick-Fil-A Jett Ferry for providing gift cards for kids’ meals, used to supplement weekend meal kits for select Dunwoody children.
The Davis Academy for including us in its 30th Anniversary Day of Service, where volunteer families packed 500 weekend meal kits in just two hours.
Some great, local organizations showing up in number to volunteer with us - Hermeus, Bohler Engineering, Salesforce, Atlanta Realtors Association, Hebrew Order of David Lodge Shimshon, North Atlanta Men’s Club, Young Men’s Service League, and Brooke Farm Women’s Club.
Collaboration with other local charities who are doing important work to help those in need - Jewish Family & Career Services, The Sandwich Project, Fathers Inc., and the Sandy Springs Mission.
As the year draws to a close, it is hard to believe that so much has transpired in such a short amount of time. However, we have only begun to scratch the surface in terms of eradicating weekend food insecurity for Atlanta’s youth. In 2023, we aim for continued growth, with the following goals to guide us:
Increasing service to 2,000 children per week by the end of the 2022-2023 school year
Adding a Chief Operating Officer to galvanize our systems and improve workflow
Expanding into a larger facility that will increase capacity beyond the 2,000 weekly goal
Further increasing efficiency that will bring down the cost to feed each child and unlock the opportunity to add more schools and more Community Buddies
Strengthening existing food sourcing partnerships and developing new ones
Increasing our volunteer force
Raising our profile in the community through marketing, public relations, and community event engagement
Increasing financial support through individual donations, foundation grants, and corporate gifts.
While ambitious, with the support of people like you, all of these goals are firmly within reach. Thank you again for your support, and looking forward to bigger things in 2023. Warm wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy, and safe New Year. Let us all be grateful for what we have and keep in mind those who are not as fortunate.