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District 202 backpack food group wins statewide recognition

  The Bags of Hope backpack food program recently received a Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (InSpra) for its work to feed District 202 students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bags of Hope formed in 2016 when another similar organization folded. Since then, BOH volunteers have discreetly provided thousands of backpacks of nutritious, non-perishable food to hundreds of needy students in District 202 and surrounding areas.

“Many students leave school every Friday and go home to empty cupboards or food that really isn’t very good for them,” said District 202 Director of Community Relations Tom Hernandez, who nominated BOH for the award.

“Bags of Hope has been a lifeline to these families before, and especially during, this pandemic,” Hernandez said. “We are proud of them and grateful for the work they do. They richly deserve this honor.”

Before March 2020, BOH provided food to about 150 students each week in about 20 of the district’s 30 schools.

Then, starting in April 2020, that number jumped to about 410 – every week, for the entire summer.

Since September 2020 the number has maintained at about 390 students served weekly in all 30 District 202 schools and two schools in Lockport as well.

They have worked directly with schools, the district office and community service groups to organize numerous food drives to restock supplies and recruit new volunteers.

Two groups of volunteers give hours of time each week. One, comprising about 30 people, pack all the bags. Another 120 volunteers deliver and distribute the bags to students’ homes.

Please visit for more information about Bags of Hope.


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