Eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep are not only essential for good health, they’re also fundamental to learning. To help children receive proper nutrition, so they can focus on learning while they’re at school, St Leo’s Food Connection developed the Backpack Program, which serves 1,125 children who receive free and reduced-cost school meals at 38 schools in the Tacoma, Lakewood and Joint Base Lewis-McChord communities.

Each weekend, these children are sent home with a backpack containing two days of food, so they can return to school on Monday well-fed and ready to learn. Currently, the food is provided in two plastic grocery bags, which children can then pack in their own backpacks. However, since Tacoma has transitioned to removing plastic bags from all stores, it only seems right that the Backpack Program follow suit.

If the Backpack Program replaces single-use plastic bags with reusable bags, an estimated 60,000 environmentally harmful plastic bags can be eliminated each school year. To accomplish this goal, the Backpack Program needs 3,000-4,000 reusable bags for the school year.

South Sound Together helped launch an operational phase of providing sustainable, reusable backpacks by funding bags with the affirmative, community-building message, “Live Like the Mountain Is Out.”

To learn more about St. Leo’s Food Connection programs, visit

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