Sonshine Backpack Ministry

For additional information about the “Sonshine Backpacks,” please contact

Bonita Rowland:  704.436.2062  or

Mission Statement

The Sonshine Backpack Ministry was formed and works through many groups to insure that all children have adequate nutrition to sustain a healthy life.  The ministry is committed to ending child hunger in our community by providing meals to children on the weekends.  The Sonshine Backpack Ministry engages the community to create awareness about child hunger and solve the social issue of child hunger in Cabarrus County.


The purpose of the Sonshine Backpack Food Ministry is to provide food for school-aged children who are considered food insecure. Many children within the community are able to get food during the week due to the school’s free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs.  However, the children are in desperate need of food during the weekends. 


The Sonshine Backpack Ministry provides approximately fifty weekly food bags to Mt. Pleasant Elementary and Mt. Pleasant Middle School.  This ministry also provides food for three high school food pantries:  Mt. Pleasant High School, Central Cabarrus High School, and the Opportunity School in Concord. 

Monthly personal hygiene items (soap, shampoo and toothpaste) are added to the weekly food bags.

Effects of this ministry:

This ministry will definitely benefit the children of our community.  When a child is hungry, they are unable to focus and learn.  However, when the basic need is met, having adequate nutritious food, the child can learn and grow appropriately.  Research has shown that when a child goes hungry over the weekend, it will take that child 2.5 days of regular meals for them to retain when they are learning.  For example, if a child comes to school hungry on Monday, they are not ready to learn until Wednesday afternoon.  Also, having the basic need of food will increase academic performance, school attendance, and improve physical and emotional health. 


The Sonshine Backpack Ministry has relied on food and monetary donations from the church members, community groups, and individual organizations.  Monetary donations go directly to the fund for purchasing food.  There are no overhead and administrative expenses.  100% of funds received are used to provide food and toiletries to the children we are helping.

It cost approximately $300 to feed one child for the entire school year.


Items Packed in the Weekly Food Bags

  • Oatmeal or Grits (Single Serving Packs)

  • Granola Bars

  • Pop Tarts

  • Easy Mac ‘n Cheese (Single Serving)

  • Canned Soup (Progresso)

  • Microwave Soup (Single Serving Containers)

  • Microwave or Canned Pasta (Spaghetti O’s or Ravioli)

  • Canned Vegetables (small or regular size)

  • Fruit Cups (Single Serving)

  • Applesauce (Single Serving)

  • Shelf-Stable Milk (Single Serving; Horizon or Tru-Moo brands)

  • 100% Juice Boxes

  • Microwave Popcorn

  • Pudding Cups (Single Serving)

  • Snack Items:  Crackers, Raisins, Cookies

*Soap, Shampoo, and Toothpaste are sent once a month*

The History Behind:

The Sonshine Backpack Ministry was established in the fall of  2011 after learning about a child within the Cabarrus County School System that had fallen asleep in class.  When the teacher asked if the child was feeling well, the child responded that he was just tired and hungry because it was not his turn to eat the night before.  This young child had to take turns with his sibling to eat dinner.  This student continues to be the inspiration for the Sonshine Backpack Ministry.  The ultimate goal of the Sonshine Backpacks is to end hunger one child at a time.

At the beginning of the 2011 school year, four students were given food assistance.   It was our desire to begin this ministry with a small number and increase the amount of students as donations became available.  With monetary and food donations from the church, we were able to provide food to twelve students during the 2011-12 school year. 

As the 2012-13 school year approached, we decided to service at least 30 students.  During the year the women of the Shell Gardner Circle at St. John's Lutheran Church, Concord, worked to get food and monetary donations.  We visited churches, women’s groups, and other community groups.  The ladies of the group presented programs about the Sonshine Backpacks in order to raise awareness about child hunger within our community.  Many churches and organizations provided financial support that allowed us to serve thirty-four students during the 2012-13 school year.

Each year the demands for food assistance increases. During the 2016-17 school year, the ministry became a non-profit organization.   The Sonshine Backpack Ministry provides approximately fifty weekly food bags for children in elementary and middle school.  The ministry also provides food for food pantries located at three area high schools.  The Sonshine Backpack Ministry is available to the school social workers when they are in need of emergency monetary or food assistance for families within their school.

The ministry has grown from providing 160 food bags during 2011 school year to approximately 2,000 food bags during the 2016-17 school year.