Columbia Southern University Partners with Feeding the Gulf Coast to Pack 2,500 Backpacks


ORANGE BEACH, ALA.—In marking its 25th anniversary, approximately 200 Columbia Southern University staff members spent Thursday packing groceries into 2,500 bags for Feeding the Gulf Coast’s Backpack Program.

The Backpack Program helps to meet the needs of chronically hungry children by providing them with nutritious and easy-to-prepare food to take home on weekends and school vacations when other resources are not available.

"CSU is really excited to mark this event by packing 2,500 bags in honor of our 25th anniversary. About 200 staffers volunteered to help make this a significant charitable milestone for us and I couldn’t be prouder,” said Vicki Barnes, CSU director of community outreach. “We are continuing our effort to make a difference in the lives of many south Alabama at-risk children through Feeding the Gulf Coast. By helping pack the bags, our staffers can really see the difference they can make in this community.”

Barnes also presented a $5,000 check to the charity to aid in its efforts to feed area children.

“In our service area, one in four children is food insecure. If you think about a row on a school bus, one child on every single row of the school bus is food insecure, meaning at some point during the day, they don’t have access to food or they’re just hungry. So we try to meet that need for them outside of school hours by supplying them with these backpacks,” said Eugenie Sellier, director of the child nutrition programs at Feeding the Gulf Coast. “We serve almost 20 schools in Baldwin County. Across our entire service area, we reach about 2,500 kids every week with the Backpack Program.”

CSU conducted five two-hour shifts to allow staffers to pack groceries into bags which will be given to the children for their breakfasts, lunches and dinners. One of the staffers who enjoyed packing for her first time with the program was Lori Raines.

“As a parent of two, I know what it means to make sure your kids have enough to eat. That’s why doing this meant so much to me. The program helps teachers put a little something in the backpacks of kids who may have little or nothing to eat at home when they leave school,” said Raines.

To learn more about Feeding the Gulf Coast’s Backpack Program, visit