Project PACKS Works with Hands on Hartford to Help Provide Food Security for Children

Trinity Students Donate Food for Hartford Children Who Face Hunger at Home

Hartford, Connecticut, November 3, 2015 – Project PACKS, which stands for “providing academic change for kindling students,” is a campus organization that was co-founded by Alex Suarez ’16 and Julia Duggan ’16, and aims to help disadvantaged children focus in school. Working together with the Charleston House for Interfaith Cooperation, Project PACKS has donated an average of 40 food-filled backpacks per week to children who receive free or reduced-price meals at school, but may face hunger at home on the weekends.

The idea for Project PACKS came together in the summer of 2013, when Duggan and Suarez were brainstorming ways in which they could get more involved with the Hartford community. With the help of Joe Barber, director of community service and civic engagement, they partnered with Hands on Hartford’s Backpack Nutrition Program to organize Project PACKS at Trinity. Since then, they have actively sought out sponsorship from other Trinity student organizations to ensure they have enough food to fill the backpacks each week. 

While sponsors are often difficult to find, the Chapel and Charleston House’s idea of hosting a Chapel Formal made it much easier to spread the word. The Chapel Formal now stands as an annual event that raises awareness of the mission of Project PACKS, and encourages students to sponsor a week of backpack donations. Duggan said, “I was really shocked the first year that the Chapel had the Formal with us. Many people showed up and gave their support, [which] was really encouraging. [This year] more people came and I really appreciated the support from the campus.”

In addition to collecting donations and ensuring that children get food for the weekend, Project PACKS also wants to raise a wider awareness of this issue. Joy Kim ’17, co-president of the Charleston House, explained, “If a child is in poverty and facing hunger, he or she will not be able to succeed in school and find their passion. All they can think about is where they will get their next meal.” The Charleston House and Project PACKS hope that just having this knowledge will encourage others to become involved, even in a small way.

Duggan hopes that the collaboration between the Charleston House and Hands on Hartford continues, so that Trinity can one day provide all 305 backpacks full of food that are given out to children every week during the school year. The Charleston House members have been a vital part of the process, and storing the supplies in the house has given Project PACKS a center of operations.

With this being Duggan and Suarez’s last year at Trinity, they hope to find other students to take over their leadership roles in the program. Duggan said, “It’s a small contribution, but it has a big impact. If people are looking for a great way to get involved and make a difference, Project PACKS is it.”

For more details on Project PACKS, e-mail julia.duggan@trincoll.edu, alex.suarez@trincoll.edu, or jbarber@trincoll.edu.

Written by Ana Medina ’16