98% of students at Village Academy in Delray Beach are in free or reduced lunch program

Program starts with 3rd grade, hopes to expand

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - Food, not homework or books are filling backpacks at one Delray Beach school. It's all an effort to ensure kids won't go hungry over the weekends.

Sadly, that's a reality for many children in Palm Beach County, some even skip meals because they don't have enough.

"These kids are dealing with not enough food in their homes, their parents are trying to figure out how to pay bills, some kids are homeless," says Village Academy Principal Guarn Sims.

That's where 'Blessings in a Backpack' comes into play.

Every Friday volunteers fill 67 bags with food and snacks to help kids stay full through the weekend.

There's one for every 3rd grade student at Village Academy. Many students share with their families.

"She gets home and looks in the bag and says 'I can give this to my auntie, or someone else,'" says Wendell Lawrence, father of Tanyra Lawrence.

The backpacks are passed out just before the bell rings and blend in with book bags.

The program started with third grade for a reason. 

"Third grade is a stressful year, it's the first time kids take the FCAT and you can be retained in the grade," says Sims.

Organizers hope by next year they can expand to include other grades.

The program started last month and already teachers say students are returning energetic on Monday, and the backpacks are empty.

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