Kids Weekend Backpack Program

Feeding kids and making a long-term impact

68 hours. That’s how long a child in an underserved community may go without food over a weekend.

Many kids in the schools we serve struggle to eat between school lunch on Friday and breakfast on Monday. Our flagship program takes rescued food and turns it into nutritious frozen meals that are delivered directly to kids in need. Meals are delivered to schools where they are sent home with food-insecure children to fill that 68 hour gap. These kids return to school on Monday ready to focus on learning because the basic need of food has been taken care of!

What’s in the Meals?

Nutritious Food, Generosity and the Goodness of Others

Each lunch and dinner includes a protein, starch and a fresh or frozen (never canned) vegetable.

Each breakfast includes a protein, starch and fruit.

Every child receives a backpack including two breakfasts and four lunches/dinners that can be easily microwaved when the child is hungry.

Each meal is packaged by volunteers at Cultivate (over 967,255 to date).

The food in these meals is rescued from some of the best chefs in the community!

Cultivate safely rescues this excess food from collegiate athletic events, school and university cafeterias, catered events, and restaurants and repurposes it into backpack meals.

By the numbers

Key Statistics and Metrics

The Bad:

Children eligible for free and reduced lunch in our three counties

Children are living in poverty across these three counties

Billion pounds of food wasted in the United States annually

The Good:

Students are now supported by Cultivate

Frozen meals are provided weekly

Distributed backpack meals in 2022

School and Pantry Partners


Backpack School Partners

  • Career Academy
  • Clay Church Pantry
  • Clay Intermediate Academy
  • Coquillard Elementary
  • Darden Elementary
  • Graduate School
  • Harrison Elementary
  • Ivy Tech South Bend
  • LaVille Elementary School
  • Lifeline
  • Lincoln Primary School
  • Madison STEAM Academy
  • McKinley Elementary
  • Monroe Primary Center
  • Navarre Middle School
  • Paramount School of Excellence
  • SALT Program
  • SBCSC Adult Education
  • Success Academy
  • Warren Primary Center
  • Wilson Primary Center

Cultivate Cares Food Network Partners

  • Abundant Faith Family Ministries
  • Aids Ministry
  • Antioch Missionary Baptist Church
  • Apostolic Temple Village
  • Briarcliff Health & Rehabilitation
  • Brick of Hope Ministries
  • Broadway Christian Parish
  • Camp Millhouse
  • Catholic Charities
  • Center for the Homeless
  • Christ Temple Apostolic Church
  • Christ the King-St Vincent de Paul
  • Clay Church
  • Clubhouse of St Joseph County
  • Davis Foundation
  • Devine Faith Ministries
  • Downtown Soup Kitchen
  • Feed a Friend
  • First United Methodist Church
  • For the Good
  • Gethsemane Church of God
  • Greater New Jerusalem Mission Baptist Church
  • HEAL
  • HealthLinc
  • Heroes Camp
  • Hope Avenue – Oaklawn
  • Hope for the Hungry
  • Hope Ministries
  • Ironwood Pentecostal Church Food Pantry
  • IUSB – Titans Feeding Titans
  • Ivy Tech/IPI School
  • Keller Park Church
  • Kingdom Business International Ministries
  • Lakeville United Methodist Church
  • Lasalle Park Homes
  • Life Treatment Center
  • Lifeline Youth & Family Services
  • Little Flower Catholic Church
  • Lydick United Methodist Church
  • Mac Food Pantry
  • Maranatha Missionary Baptist Church
  • Michiana Christian Community
  • Miami Village Church
  • Mishawaka Food Pantry
  • New Carlisle Food Pantry
  • Northeast Neighborhood Center
  • Oaklawn Properties – Oaklawn
  • Oaklawn Psychiatric Center – Oaklawn
  • Oliver Apartments – Oaklawn
  • Our Lady of the Road
  • Recovery Cafe – Oaklawn
  • River Park United Methodist Church
  • Robinson Community Learning Center
  • Ronald McDonald House Charities
  • Salvation Army – St Joseph/Kroc Center
  • Southgate Food Pantry
  • St Vincent de Paul – St Joseph Parish
  • St. Adalbert & St. Casimir
  • St. Augustine Catholic Church
  • St Joseph County Health Dept – Mishawaka
  • St Joseph County Health Dept – North East & West
  • St Joseph County Health Dept – Rum Village
  • St Joseph County Health Dept – Walkerton / N. Liberty
  • St Joseph County Health Dept – West Side
  • St Joseph County Public Library
  • St. Margaret’s House
  • St. Paul Lutheran Church
  • St. Paul’s Memorial Church
  • St. Vincent de Paul Society Center
  • Storehouse Food Pantry
  • Take Heart Inc.
  • The Grace Place
  • Transformation Ministries
  • Village Food Pantry
  • Vineyard Community Center
  • West Side Church of Christ
  • Youth Services Bureau of St Joe County
  • YWCA

Backpack School Partners

  • Baugo Community School
  • Boys & Girls Club Goshen
  • Bristol Elementary
  • Child & Parent Services
  • Cleveland Elementary School
  • Concord South Side
  • Concord West Side
  • Eastwood Elementary
  • Elkhart Freshman Division Fieldhouse
  • Goshen Intermediate School
  • Heart City Health
  • Mary Beck
  • Mary Daly Elementary School
  • Model
  • Monger Elementary
  • North side Middle School
  • PACE Preschool
  • Parkside Elementary School
  • Pierre Moran Middle School
  • Prairie View Elementary School
  • Pride Academy
  • Riverview Elementary
  • Roosevelt STEAM Academy
  • School Without Walls
  • Wa-Nee Community Schools
  • Waterford
  • West Goshen
  • West Side Middle School

Cultivate Cares Food Network Partners

  • Adult & Teen Challenge Northern Indiana
  • Boys & Girls Club Elkhart County
  • Boys & Girls Club – Nappanee
  • Boys & Girls Club – Goshen
  • Brady Center
  • Church community Services
  • Elkhart Excel Center
  • Elkhart Schools Art Café
  • Goshen Interfaith Hospitality Network
  • Jimtown Food Pantry
  • Heart City Health
  • Kingdom Community Center
  • Kingdom Impact
  • Maple Leaf Commons
  • Middlebury Boys & Girls Club
  • Middlebury Food Pantry
  • Nappanee Open Door
  • Open Gate Food Pantry
  • Project Scope
  • S.A.K.A.L the Center
  • Salvation Army – Elkhart
  • Salvation Army – Goshen
  • Saving Grace
  • Shepherd’s Cove (Calvary Assembly of God)
  • Susanna’s Kitchen
  • The Center
  • The Hub Bristol
  • The Village Community Center
  • World Harvest Church

Backpack School Partners

  • Argos Elementary
  • Bremen High School
  • Jefferson Elementary
  • Marshall-Starke County Head Start
  • Riverside
  • St. Michael’s Catholic School
  • Washington Discovery Academy
  • Webster Elementary

Cultivate Cares Food Network Partners

  • Boys & Girls Club, Bremen
  • Bread of Life
  • Community Services
  • Culver Food Pantry
  • David’s Courage
  • DeLong Gospel Lighthouse Church
  • Marian University’s Ancilla College
  • Marshall County Neighborhood Center
  • Monastery of the Holy Martyrs
  • Oak Haven
  • Plymouth Baptist
  • Serenity House
  • Shepherd’s Food Pantry Argos

*Don’t see your school on this list or want to know how to enroll a child in the program?
Contact your school’s administration or contact us here.


Thank you for the frozen meals. My granddaughter uses them to easily fix herself a good nutritious meal. It is a wonderful program to use excess food, and to serve good meals for the students at their homes on the weekends. Thank you!



Thank you so much for working with the Wa-Née Community schools and Cultivate to provide my 3 children with 5 delicious meals each weekend during the covid pandemic while the schools were closed.  It meant the world to our family to know that each Friday there would be 3 backpacks delivered to our front porch full of delicious and nutritious meals. I’m not sure how we could have done it without you. We can’t thank you enough to you and the volunteers that made this all possible.

Backpack Family at Wa-Nee Community Schools

The Cultivate meals are easy for me to grab after school, and just as easy for me to make at home for a meal.  When our family is busy, it is easy for me to fix a good and healthy meal without having to go out and get something.  There are many great meals to choose from. My favorite is the oatmeal with sausage.  Thank you for making a variety of foods for families in our area to enjoy.



Cultivate has been an incredible blessing for our school. It’s hard to concentrate, behave and perform while hungry! Cultivate has removed barriers for our students in need. Each week, 35-40 of our students receive 6 high quality meals to take home with them. Our families are grateful for the extra support in this particularly difficult time.

Hope Amor

Principal at LaVille Elementary School

Volunteer with Cultivate today!