Herald Republican Thursday, March 28, 2013
FREMONT — What started as a program to help feed hungry elementary students in the Fremont Community Schools has grown 33 percent this year, with more than 80 students taking advantage of Boomerang Backpacks.
Boomerang Backpacks provides free meals for hungry and needy children to take home for weekends. The non-profit program currently serves more than 2,000 students in 21 elementary schools.
Andrew Thomas, Sam Stukey and Anna Thompson, all Fremont High School juniors, help run the program at the elementary school. The three students work with Chris Phillips, Fremont Elementary School guidance counselor, in reaching students in need of the backpacks.
“It’s grown a lot,” Stukey said. “More people are in need of food.”
Stukey said the program’s mission is to nourish low-income elementary students on weekends by providing backpacks full of food. At the same time, the experience serves to inspire high school students to experience community service through project-based learning and student internships.
Stukey said he got involved with Boomerang Backpacks after his brother, Ben, helped start the Fremont program.
“When they started, they went to the Fremont Town Council and others” to help get the program off the ground, Stukey said. “It was started by the Key Club. My sophomore year, Ann and I applied and were interviewed.”
Stukey said it’s coincidental that three high school juniors run the program.
“We do all of it — pack bags, order pre-packed food. We drop it off in teachers’ rooms,” he said. “It’s a lot of work, but it makes me happy I’m helping them. I walk to their school and the kids run up and are excited. They know our names and will say, ‘Hey, Sam.’”
Stukey said each child is assigned a backpack and sent home with food for the weekend. The following week, the child brings the backpack back and the cycle starts over again. The program also provides extra food for extended breaks.
Stukey said the two most popular food items with students are beef jerky and apple sauce.
Stukey said being involved in the program looks good on a resume or college application and he values the experience.
“It’s taught me a lot — business skills, social skills, management,” he said.
Fremont’s Boomerang Backpacks program will have a fundraiser at Bob Evans, Angola, April 7-14, with 15 percent of sales given to the program when a diner presents the appropriate flyer when paying. To print the flyer, visit The program is funded through grants, fundraisers and contributions from local businesses.
Stukey said the program always welcomes contributions of pre-packed, non-perishable food. Such items may be dropped off at the elementary school office, 501 W. Toledo St.