Backpack Heroes: What's in the bag?

ALBANY--“Older kids might start acting out in anger,”

When a kid is hungry, the signs may seem like behavioral problems.

“Kids that are hungry that are younger might start crying.”

Not only can bad nutrition prevent a kid from focusing in class. Nutritionist Molly Ward says it can lead to physical disorders.

“Whether they’re not gaining enough weight or stunted growth,” Ward said.

It could also lead to life threatening disease.

Children never used to get Type 2 Diabetes, but were seeing it as young as 4, 5 years old,” Ward said.

New research out of Virginia Tech shows students who receive free or reduced lunch at school are more likely to become obese because of poor nutrition quality in the food kids are served. More than 28,000 students depend on those meals in our viewing area.

Nutritionists want to see less processed food and more produce in kids meals. To combat obesity, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York is making nutrition a priority in the backpacks full of food they're sending home with kids who need food assistance on the weekend. We spoke to Children’s Program Director Betsy Dickson.

“What we find is when household budgets are tight produce is the first to go,” Dickson said.

The bags include fresh fruit, veggies, grains, dairy and protein. Produce and protein tend to be the most expensive items, and are also the highest in demand at the non-profit.

“The item we ask for most frequently is peanut butter and jelly,” Dickson said.

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