Provision Packs to hold seventh annual Backpack Bash fundraiser

Provision Packs is facing an $87,000 deficit next year, but Founder Carrie Torres and her volunteers are continuing to work to feed children in need in Volusia and Flagler counties.

Carrie Torres founded Provision Packs in 2015 after seeing two students in need at Pathways Elementary. Photo by Jarleene Almenas
Carrie Torres founded Provision Packs in 2015 after seeing two students in need at Pathways Elementary. Photo by Jarleene Almenas
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For Provision Packs Founder Carrie Torres, the bottom line of her organization's mission is to feed hungry children.

Since 2015, Provision Packs has upheld that mission, and though the nonprofit has no plans to stop anytime soon, the rising cost of food due to inflation has posed a significant challenge. Now feeding upwards of 850 children a week in 13 schools in Volusia and Flagler County, this year was the first since Torres founded Provision Packs where she was unable to expand services. Rising costs mean a rising need, but it also means a decrease in donations. 

"It's like this triple whammy that we're trying to get through," Torres said. "We're trying to be able to combat the rise in cost while still being able to feed that need." 

Feeding America found that one in five children in 2020 lived in food insecure households. To close that gap, Provision Packs distributes nutritious food for children in financial need to have during the weekends and extended breaks throughout the school year.

Provision Packs' biggest annual fundraiser, its Backpack Bash, will be held from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Forever Ranch in Ormond Beach. The fundraiser features food from local restaurants, outdoor games, live music by local band Hayfire and a silent auction. Tickets cost $50 per person in advance and $60 at the door.

Provision Packs' goal is to raise $70,000. 

Currently, the nonprofit helps students from Beachside Elementary, Champions Elementary, Holly Hill K-8, Ormond Beach Elementary, Pathways Elementary, Pine Trail Elementary, Port Orange Elementary, Spruce Creek Elementary, Tomoka Elementary, Bunnell Elementary, imagine School at Town Center, Rymfire Elementary and Wadsworth Elementary. There are six schools, Torres said, that are waiting to get help from Provision Packs.

For the upcoming 2023-2024 school year, Provision Packs is looking at a food cost of $303,000 to cover 36 weeks of feeding 850 children per week. That averages to about $8 per bag, Torres said. In 2019, it used to cost Provision Packs $5 a bag per child. Peanut butter alone this year is costing them $10,000 more, she added. 

Torres said she and her board are facing an $87,000 budget deficit next year.

"We plan one year in advance," she said. "This also tells us how we can and cannot grow."

Provision Packs doesn't require schools to provide any statistical or analytical data to deem a child eligible to receive food. While that increases accessibility, it also means Provision Packs can't qualify for state funding. 

Because Provision Packs doesn't require statistical or analytical data from local schools, Carrie Torres relies on fundraising to feed the need in the community. Photo by Jarleene Almenas

That's why fundraising is so important, Torres said. Changing Provision Packs' model would mean some students would not receive food.

"We don't want red tape," she said. "So a lot of it is we just keep going in faith."

And it's primarily the local businesses that keep them going, Torres said. The following restaurants are participating in the Backpack Bash: Fugu, Ormond Garage, 31 Supper Club, Riptides, The Grind, Mario’s, Avanu, Hulls Seafood, Rose Villa, Sovereign 63, SoNapa and Salty Pint. 

"The small businesses in this community — they're not only the backbone of the community, they are the backbone of this organization," she said.

Torres said over 50 local businesses have helped make the Backpack Bash possible in its seventh year.

"It makes me feel humbled, because everybody is going through it," Torres said. "So many of these (businesses) are restaurants — their costs are rising too, and there's just a lot of organizations that love this community, and knowing that this is their home base, they want to serve the community that they're in." 


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