BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– Louisiana holds the highest food insecurity rate among children, and one program is helping students fend off hunger during the school year.

Backpacks typically contain items such as binders, pencils and paper. But for some students in the Greater Baton Rouge Area, they are also used to carry meals home.

“Our backpack program is an opportunity for us to get food in the hands of children,” said Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank CEO Mike Manning.

This programs equips children with a special backpack that comes in handy for students who lack access to consistent meals when they’re not at school.

“The concept is to get the bags to the schools for the kids to bring home on Friday afternoon and then the next week to get it again. And during the holidays, you know, when you have those two week holidays, we try to double up those distributions to give them more food to help cover them over that holiday period,” Manning explained.

He said the program gives students one less problem to worry about.

“The whole concept is to improve their behavior, to allow them to be more present in the classroom as opposed to being,” he said.

Manning said they work with 21 schools, reaching nearly 1500 students.

But the program won’t stop there.

“Ideally, we’d love to get into a school where there’s significant need and start with one class and grow it to where all the classes are, where it follows those kids through their time in that school,” he said.

He believes that by investing in the success of today’s children, Louisiana is investing in its future.

“The children are a resource for the future, and if we don’t take care of these kids, we’re failing them,” Manning said. “We need to do our part to help the educational system be successful, to drive them to success in the future.”

If you would like to sign up for the program, The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank says you should contact your school leader to see if they participate in this program.

If you would like to help sponsor the backpack program click here.