The History of BackPack Buddies

This spring we said goodbye to Kyle Abrams, who had worked tirelessly for more than 5 years running Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s BackPack Buddies program (as well as our other Child Hunger programs).

Kyle Abrams
Kyle Abrams

Kyle leaves us having overseen substantial growth in the program, both in numbers of hungry kids served, but also in numbers of community members engaged in this effort. He also leaves the program on a stable financial footing. “It’s my baby,” he says.

As we wish him the best on his next adventure, let’s take a look back and just how far BackPack Buddies has come:

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1995—Backpack program is conceived of by a school nurse in Little Rock Arkansas concerned about the hungry children who were visiting her clinic.

2000Feeding America picks up the concept for replication by its member food banks.

MIX 101.5 BackPack Buddies Food Drive
MIX 101.5 BackPack Buddies Food Drive

2006—IFFS begins running BackPack Buddies in Wake County with delivery of 250 bags weekly at the Raleigh Housing Authority site: The Oaks. 

2008—IFFS begins partnering with WRAL-FM MIX 101.5 on a radio-thon food and fundraising event that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and pounds of food over the years.

2009—IFFS beings BackPack Buddies distribution in Durham.

2010—Kyle Abrams hired as Food Shuttle’s first full-time permanent coordinator for BackPack Buddies. At this time, IFFS is distributing 824 bags weekly, to 44 schools.

2010Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina becomes a BackPack partner with a grant to support the program. BCBSNC staff also volunteer weekly to pack & deliver backpacks.

2011—First Baptist begins administration of all Communities in Schools BackPack Buddies sites.

2011—St. Marks UMC begins partnership with IFFS, they now administer and oversee bags for 6 schools supported by a national grant.

2012—Partnership established with Porch Durham to provide food and funds for expanded service in Durham.


2012—'The Food Drive Kid' launches annual food and fund drives for BackPack Buddies.

2013—IFFS School Pantry program established in 5 Durham middle & high schools to reach still more at-risk school-aged youth.

2014PORCH Raleigh begins collecting food in support of BackPack Buddies.

2014—IFFS hires a dedicated BackPack Buddies driver, in response to growth of BackPack Buddies deliveries.

2015—IFFS debuts Sponsorships for individuals & companies willing to make a deeper financial commitment to BackPack buddies.

2015—Amber Simmons is hired as Childhood Hunger Programs Coordinator, and Kyle is promoted to Childhood Hunger Programs Manager.

2016—IFFS currently serves 2,035 bags weekly at 67 sites.

As proud as we are of how far we've come - we have much further to go. 

In our 7 counties alone, over 118,000 children applied to receive free/reduced-price lunch for the 2014-2015 school year. That’s almost 44% of all children in these public school systems that are at risk of hunger - and hungry kids can't learn.

Click here to help a local NC child stay nourished all weekend long.


By Sally Bache, IFFS Administrative Services Manager - as told by Kyle Abrams. Contact: