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June 24, 2022

United Way and Partners Kick Off Summer Backpack Program in Putnam County

This summer, United Way of Westchester and Putnam is teaming up with the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, the Carmel School District, and DoorDash to provide the Summer Backpack Program to low-income families of school-aged children on a weekly basis from July 13- August 31. The program delivers supplemental food, books, and activities weekly to households. During the final week of the program, school-aged children will receive a backpack with school supplies.

This program is for families with students that qualify for free or reduced lunch. The program is limited to 100 Putnam households.  You must be a resident of Putnam County to participate.

The Summer Backpack Program is a component of UWWP’s Education United initiative, providing equity to students from disadvantaged communities by offering support services and resources to help them achieve academic success. It utilizes United Way’s Ride United Last Mile Delivery program to close the transportation gap that prevents many families from receiving help.

“The Summer Backpack Program allows us to bring the resources to those in need, rather than having them travel to go get it,” said Faith Ann Butcher, Chief Impact Officer of United Way. “The effects of the program are threefold: First, it alleviates hunger, and second it reduces “summer slide,” which is the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the summer when kids aren’t in school. Studies have shown this loss disproportionately affects low-income students more than those from higher-earning families. The backpack of supplies at the end of the summer also helps the families to financially divert the cost of those supplies to other much-needed resources.”

The weekly bags will be assembled and distributed out of George Fisher Middle School in Carmel.

“We are proud to partner with United Way as a pick-up site for such a supportive food and educational supply program for our county residents this summer,” said Carmel Schools Superintendent Mary-Margaret Zehr. “Showing kindness to others and being engaged in the community are two of our district’s core values that we strive to instill in all our graduates. The Putnam Summer Backpack Program aligns so well with our district values and will be a beneficial resource for many county families this year.”

“This program is a collective effort and would not have been possible without our partners,” Butcher said.

To participate, please sign up at