Money Key To BeJoy Backpacks’ Future Growth

Everything comes with pros and cons, even the BeJoy Backpacks project. 

BeJoy Backpacks is a yearly food drive sponsored by The Joy FM radio station. It collects food for the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia’s “Food for Kids” program, which provides weekend meals for elementary school-age children in Clarke County. 

 Why It’s Newsworthy: The drive was held on Aug. 27 and all organizations have already decided to host the drive again next year.  


Though this year’s food drive more than doubled in its donation total, there’s still one big issue that stands in the way: the lack of money. 

Tracey Massey, the childhood nutrition manager at the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, has identified and understood this issue. 

“Money is always an issue concerning anything like this,” Massey said. “We appreciate the support from the community through donations, but if we had more monetary support, we could possibly double again next year and provide 1,000 meals.” 

According to Massey, it takes $245 a month to supply weekend meals for one child in Athens. That makes it $2,940 per child to supply their weekend meals for an entire year.  

Jules Smoak, on-air talent for The Joy FM, believes there’s another issue concerning this drive, too, that, consequently, is related to the issue of money. 

I believe people support this drive in Athens,” Smoak said. “The need is here, too, but there aren’t enough donations made to fully solve the problem.” 

The 918 pounds of donated food supplied 500 students with weekend meals, but there is a 21.6 percent child food insecurity rate in Clarke County. 

Despite this limitation, BeJoy Backpacks continues to grow in the Athens area. Both organizations know the issue of money hinders the food drive’s success, but they view this year’s growth as a huge step in the right direction.

“I’d love to see, four or five years down the road, BeJoy Backpacks serve every school in the Athens area,” Smoak said. “But for now, we’re going to continue helping feed the children we can.”

Phillip B. Hubbard is a senior majoring in journalism and in the sports media certificate program in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.



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