backpack project usa

Our History

Backpack Project USA got its start in 2011 as a project of Escambia County School District’s Maintenance Department. The founding members were:

  • Charles (Chuck) Peterson,
  • J. Scott Stillman, and
  • Thomas (Tom) Weaver.
Backpack Project USA began as a small project whose single goal was to provide weekend food for students in Escambia County Elementary Schools who had been identified as at-risk for hunger. The project began by providing twenty-five (25) students with a weekend portion of food every Friday during the 40-week school year.

Since its inception, the project has continued to grow. After the first year, Backpack Project USA’s steering committee determined that consistent resources were needed in order and came up with several ideas to raise funds and increase food donations, and the Family Fishing Rodeo was formed as a result of those ideas. The first Rodeo was a huge success, and the committee decided to make it an annual event. The Annual Family Fishing Rodeo occurs on Labor Day weekend, each year, and has become the primary fundraising event for Backpack Project USA.


In 2016, Backpack Project USA filed the necessary paperwork to become a Florida Not For Profit Corporation and became a stand-alone organization. We now consist of multiple volunteers from several departments within the School District of Escambia County as well as volunteers from the community. At the end of the 2018-2019 school year, Backpack Project USA was providing weekend food for over five hundred (500) children identified as at-risk for hunger.

Current Organizational Structure

Backpack Project USA, Inc. is a 501(C)(3), non-profit, charitable organization that is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors consisting of five (5) officers and two (2) advisory members. There are no paid positions associated with Backpack Project USA, Inc.

The current officers are:

  • Gregory (Greg) Gibbs, President
  • Richard Lyons, Vice President
  • James (Jim) Higgins, Treasurer
  • Dana (JoAnn) Janes, Secretary
  • Thomas (Tom) Weaver, Executive Director
The current advisory members are:
  • J. Scott Stillman
  • Tiffany Clark

Backpack Project USA Sponsors