Wegmans shoppers can help ensure that all Rochester-area kids have kid-friendly, nutritious foods when school is out.

Wegmans shoppers can support the annual Fill the Bus campaign happening now, between Aug. 25 and Sept. 7. Donations to Fill the Bus support Foodlink’s BackPack Program that helps ensure children living in food-insecure households have enough food to eat when school meals are no longer available.

Fill the Bus allows shoppers to purchase pre-packed bags of food that are sent to Foodlink this fall. Products such as soup, tuna, mac & cheese, and canned vegetables and fruit help give children a well-balanced assortment of meals and snacks when they are home from school.

Through the program, bags of kid-friendly, nutritious foods are packed and sent to schools around the Rochester region, and placed in the backpacks of more than 3,000 children every Friday.

On more than 73,000 occasions last year, a child at risk of hunger left school on Friday afternoon with a little something extra thanks to the program now in its seventh year.

“On weekends and during school holidays, food insecurity rises for low-income families in the Rochester area,” stated Julia Tedesco, Foodlink’s president and CEO. “Often, these children are forced to skip meals, which hinders their physical, mental and social well-being. The BackPack Program and other child nutrition programs at Foodlink help ensure these kids have the nourishment they need to reach their true potential.”

Last year, the campaign collected more than 285,000 pounds of food.

“We can’t thank our customers enough for their continued generosity during the Fill the Bus campaign each year,” stated Linda Lovejoy, Wegmans community relations manager. “The impact this campaign has on the lives of thousands of children in our community is a great example of how communities thrive when we all work together.”

More than 45,000 children in Foodlink’s 10-county service area struggle with food insecurity, meaning they live in a household that lacks consistent access to enough healthy food and aren’t always sure when or from where they’ll get their next meal.

Foodlink, Wegmans Food Markets, Fidelis Care, and media sponsors at 13WHAM ABC, WUHF Fox Rochester, and CW Rochester partner for the program. Foodlink operates the BackPack program at more than 80 area schools, and reached more than 3,000 children during the 2018-19 school year.

For more information about this year’s Fill the Bus campaign, visit www.FoodlinkNY.org.