BrainPower in a BackPack


BHS students pack food in the cafeteria at Burnsville High School just about every Thursday when school is in session. Some days are already taken by school groups or teams. If you want to volunteer, sign up in G160 or here. For dates, check the calendar.

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What Is BrainPower in a BackPack?

BrainPower in a BackPack is a volunteer project of ISD 191 Community Education and Burnsville High School.  Our high school students pack weekend food for elementary school students in ISD 191 whose families struggle to put enough food on the table. Because academic performance is related to nutrition, our goal is to improve the student learning experience for children with the greatest need in ISD 191.

How Does BrainPower in a BackPack Work?

During 2017-2018, we will provide nearly 650 students with a bag of food each Friday - enough for at least four meals and two snacks.  Participating students attend one of the ten elementary schools, three middle school, preschool programs including Early Childhood Special Education and Early Childhood Family Education programs at Diamondhead.  We also provide items for a food shelf available to Burnsville High School and Nicollet Middle School students.  Children are selected for BrainPower in a BackPack by school administrators, staff, social workers and parent recommendations.  As this program grows, we will will be able to help more children. We have reached our ultimate goal to feed the hungriest 20% of children district-wide (more than  600 children this past school year).

The food BrainPower provides is  kid-friendly, easy-to-prepare and nutritious, without requiring refrigeration. BrainPower staff purchase food and collect food donations; high school volunteers fill the backpacks after school on Thursdays (2:35-4:00 pm) throughout the school year. Notes are included with the food to add a personal touch as well as to highlight various sponsors. Students are involved in food drives and various aspects of fund raising.

Each child receives about 10 food items each week, for which we spend approximately $4. Examples include: fresh fruit, juice, cereal, oatmeal, macaroni and cheese, soup, pasta and rice meals, veggies, fruit cups, applesauce, crackers and granola bars.
 BrainPower in a BackPack is free to students in the program.

Anticipated Outcomes

This project benefits people in several ways: 
  • Children who receive the food may show better rates of attendance.
  • They may be energized for school and ready to learn (studies have shown a correlation between learning and nutrition).
  • Teachers may find that students are more interested in participating in the classroom, rather than thinking about their next meal.
  • Children may exhibit fewer negative behaviors that relate to not having enough to eat.
  • Test scores may improve.
  • Families will have a sense of relief that their children have enough to eat.
  • Students who pack the backpacks will be making a contribution to families in our school district.
  • Our community will feel good that the children are getting more of what they need and will have a better chance at success.
  • We are raising awareness about local hunger issues.
We are very grateful that our community has embraced this project to improve the learning experience for these children. The money for this project is donated.  If you would like to make a financial contribution, click Donate.  You can also donate food; suggestions can be found by clicking on the food link.

Sign Up to Help

Students who would like to sign up to pack food, either individually or with a group, check the BrainPower packing schedule.

Other links: