Gainesville Daily Register

Local News

February 12, 2013

'Backpack Buddy' program provides food for children

Cooke County — Volunteers In Service To Others (VISTO) is a non-profit organization that began in Cooke County in the 1980s as a program created by the area Ministry Alliance. Prior to VISTO, local churches acted independently to handle crisis situations. One of the programs offered by VISTO is the Backpack Buddy program.

Nationally, one in five children live in poverty. In Gainesville that ratio is one in four. School nurses report that children complain of stomachaches and headaches due to hunger. When children are hungry, they are in poor health nutritionally, they have trouble learning and they fall behind in achieving their full potential. The result can be a life empty of hope and promise.

The local schools will identify children who would most benefit from the program. The qualified children receive a backpack filled with food for themselves and their school-aged siblings for the weekend during the school calendar. In Cooke County, school-aged children are ages three to 18.  The two day supply of food enables them to have something to eat when they might not have anything until Monday.

Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director of VISTO said, “One year there was a little boy we will call ‘George’ who received his backpack on Friday.  He was so excited and when the teacher asked him why he was so happy to get his backpack he said, ‘Because I can feed my little brother and sister.’ The program allows them to feel empowered to help their family.”

Baldwin stated that on average the costs of the food runs $5 per week.  The backpack costs $15.

Teachers have cited that the primary benefits of the Backpack Buddy Program indicate great improvements in grades, attendance, fewer behavioral problems, more interest in school and better health.

Each year, VISTO has a fundraiser to help cover cost of the Backpack Buddy Program. This year’s major fundraiser will be in April and will include a Murder/Mystery.  Last year, a similar fundraiser accumulated $75,000.  This year the goal is $100,000.

Working with Michelle Baldwin are food coordinator Shelley Burgess,  financial assistance coordinator Misty Beaver and Warehouse Manager Suzanne Yeager.

Yeager also is the volunteer coordinator and Elm Street community garden coordinator.

“During the past year we had over 250 volunteers logging in over 4,000 volunteer hours,” Baldwin said.  “Gainesville and Cooke County have some of the most giving people around. Of course, we can always use more.”


Text Only
Local News
  • GISD GISD honors Special Olympics team

    It was an action-packed night at the Gainesville Independent School District (GISD) board meeting Monday with much recognition for accomplishments and honors leading off the evening.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • NCTC regents vote for new ag building

    North Central Texas College will be getting a new Agriculture Center on the Gainesville campus.
    At Monday’s regular meeting, NCTC regents unanimously voted to demolish the current building which hosts agriculture, equine and horticulture classes, and construct a new building on the same site.
    The current building is in need of major repairs, according to reports, and includes upstairs space that is not usable.

    April 23, 2014

  • NCTC NCTC Equine hosts horse judging competition

    North Central Texas College Equine hosted the National Horse Judging Team Coaches’ Association Spring Contest and Julie Voge’s Judging 101 on April 15 at the NCTC Gainesville campus.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Easter Egg hunting at Frank Buck Zoo

    The Easter Bunny made an early appearance at the Frank Buck Zoo Eggstravaganza Saturday as children and parents from all around North Texas collected Easter eggs and photo opportunities during the zoo’s annual celebration.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • CASA Courthouse ribbons stand to serve as reminder

    With April being Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month, 138 blue ribbons dot the Gainesville courthouse lawn as a reminder of Cooke County children who currently have been placed into foster homes due to abusive or neglectful home situations.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • MISD adds wind reinvestment zone

    The Muenster Independent School District board approved the creation of the Muenster Wind Reinvestment Zone that will provide a $6.6 million tax benefit for 14 years, according to the April 10 unofficial minutes.

    April 22, 2014

  • NCTC Cosmetology to offer summer camp NCTC Cosmetology to offer summer camp

    Personal beauty care and hygiene will be the focus of a brand new youth summer camp offered at North Central Texas College in June.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fire chief Wally Cox promoted to Gainesville fire chief

    Gainesville Fire-Rescue interim chief Wally Cox was promoted to chief on April 17.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bully NCTC to stage 'The Bully Plays'

    It’s an awful feeling to be bullied.
    Sometimes it’s harder still to see bullying happening to others and not know how to stop it.
    Abigail’s Arms, the county’s domestic violence shelter and victim resource agency, is determined to teach kids how to intervene when they see their peers emotionally or physically abusing others.
    The agency has recently joined forces with North Central Texas College to stage “The Bully Plays” — an anthology of 24 plays depicting various aspects of bullying behavior.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • scholarships GHS students receive full-ride scholarships

    Gainesville High School seniors Payton Cassidy, Conner Kennedy, Vicky Moreno and Hannah Gerken received some good news recently. The students were notified Tuesday that they have received all expense paid, full-ride college scholarships from the Terry Foundation.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads

What are your plans for the upcoming vacation season?

Stay close to home.
Take the trip of a lifetime.
See more of the fabulous sites in Texas.
Haven't decided.
     View Results
Twitter Feed
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide