Backpack Buddies serves Eastway Elementary

More than 100 students at Eastway Elementary School in Durham are participants in the “Backpack Buddies” program, which sends students home for the weekend with a backpack full of food.

“As long as something like that is available, we will take advantage of it,” said Raymond Batts, a fifth-grade teacher at Eastway.

“There is no real social stigma tied to it at the school,” Batts added, explaining that students do not tease those who take the food home.

The program serves a little more than 100 students out of some 655 in the school, said Principal Shayla Holeman.  She said 99 percent of the students at Eastway qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch.

The school relies on churches and other sources to serve students who are not selected for the program, which was implemented a few years ago.

“The program is a success because of the generosity of the community,” said Holeman.