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North Hills Backpack Initiative

Nearly one in every four North Hills School District students qualifies for the National School Lunch, which assures that eligible students receive free or reduced-price lunch and breakfast on school days. For many area families and millions of children across the nation, securing meals during the weekend can prove to be difficult.

Due to those difficulties, the North Hills Backpack Initiative was started in 2012 by Kathy Helfrich, a North Hills High School guidance counselor, and Holly Michael, a gifted education teacher.

The duo saw a need to supplement weekend food supplies for students who qualify for free meals during the school day. Along with other teachers and staff, they endeavored to meet students’ most basic need and prevent extreme hunger for students whose families cannot afford meals.

How You Can Help

The program operates on donations and an estimated 71,300 food items will be required this school year for local families in need as 1,980 items are distributed weekly. Approximately 180 North Hills School District families across the district rely upon the program each week for individual care packages and family-size bags of food packed by North Hills students.

Donation boxes also are located in every district building and can be accessed during the school day. Suggested donations include single-serving and individually packaged:

  • Pudding Cups
  • Single-serving Snack Crackers
  • Fruit cups
  • Single-serving Cereals and Oatmeal
  • Granola and Cereal Bars
  • Hearty Soups
  • Canned Pasta Meals
  • Single-serving Macaroni & Cheese

Monetary donations also are accepted and can be sent to North Hills High School, Attn: Backpack Initiative, 53 Rochester Road, Pittsburgh, Pa. 15229. Make checks payable to North Hills Foundation and include “Backpack Initiative” in the memo line.

If you wish to enroll your student/family in the program, please contact your student's guidance counselor.  
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North Hills School District
135 Sixth Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15229
Phone: 412-318-1000 Fax: 412-318-1084
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