Residents at CoreCivic's Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas, Colorado, packed the one-millionth food package on September 23 as part of Bent's Backpack Fulfillment Program. Since the program's inception in 2018, residents have assembled packages for food distribution centers across the country, which are then redistributed to underserved children in low-income school districts. Some food packages have also been distributed to individuals in special need during COVID-19, with the number of needed food packages increasing through the pandemic.
"I've been there, so I know what it's like to go hungry," said Richard, a warehouse worker in the Bent Fulfillment Program. "To be able to help the community and children, it makes a lot of us feel good. For a lot of people who work out here, that's their main goal for getting this job, is to give back while incarcerated."
While helping to make a difference in communities across the United States, those working in the program also become industry certified to operate a forklift. Currently, the program employs approximately 30 residents, who are compensated for their work and have the opportunity to also earn other important warehouse assembly skills.
“These individuals could one day be our neighbors, so it’s rewarding for us to see them obtain job skills that they can use to transition once they return,” said Steven Salazar, program facilitator at Bent.
Backpack Food Kits by the Numbers
2018: 175,620 total food packages, 333 pallets delivered to 8 food distribution centers across 6 states
2019: 247,200 total food packages, 479 pallets delivered to 12 food distribution centers across 10 states
2020: 373,220 total food packages, 662 pallets delivered to 16 food distribution centers across 10 states
2021: 247,500 total food packages, 376 pallets delivered to 10 food distribution centers across 9 states*
“The milestone of reaching the one million bags packed is much bigger than the facility or myself or the offenders,” said Salazar. “Because the way we look at it, hopefully, we’ve reached one million kids or other people in need.”
For more information about the Backpack Fulfillment Program at Bent, click here.
*Numbers reflect year-to-date