Back the Pack gets $20,000 for school program

A $20,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation means Back the Pack in Massena will be able to continue packing and providing healthy weekend snacks to Massena elementary and junior high school students for another year. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — A $20,000 grant from the Alcoa Foundation means Back the Pack in Massena will be able to continue packing and providing healthy weekend snacks to Massena elementary and junior high school students for another year.

Back the Pack Chair Julianne C. Paquin said the grant will cover nearly half of its budget as the group faces increasing food costs this year.

“This wonderful grant will make it possible for Back the Pack to run for the entire 2019-2020 school year, providing for more than 326 students each week that may be facing weekend hunger during the 66 hours each week the school meals are unavailable,” Mrs. Paquin said.

This is the second year Back the Pack has received the grant. Applicants had to be in a community where Alcoa was operating, had to be not-for-profit, and had to demonstrate a commitment to diversity and to deliver measurable results.

“The settling of the Alcoa contract wasn’t the only good news for Massena from Alcoa. Alcoa reaffirmed their commitment to the youth of Massena by the awarding of a $20,000 Alcoa Foundation Grant to Back the Pack for the second consecutive year,” Mrs. Paquin said.

This is the ninth year Back the Pack has provided healthy weekend snacks for students at Jefferson, Madison and Nightengale elementary schools, Trinity Catholic School and J.W. Leary Junior High School.

But it’s been many years that Alcoa has supported the community and organizations like Back the Pack, according to Mrs. Paquin, who grew up in an Alcoa family, from her grandfather down to her father and brother. Retired Alcoans make up some of the volunteer staff at Back the Pack.

“Over the years, Alcoa has always shown a dedication to Massena. Starting in the very early years of its existence, they provided night school for the new citizens of Massena and the United States. In addition, they sponsored a band, secretarial training courses, blood clinics, softball leagues for men and women. They also provided housing and at one point even sold vegetables to their employees,” she said.

In addition, Mrs. Paquin said, “Alcoa through the years has contributed to many of the recreation facilities in Massena, including the donation of the Alcoa Field, donation to the Massena Arena, sponsoring ball teams, etc.”

Now the company has once again supported Back the Pack.

“Back the Pack is grateful to the Alcoa Foundation to help us through our ninth year,” she said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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