Our Mission

Providing Weekend Hunger Bags for Children in Need

Our Story

Backpack Brigade was founded in 2014, when volunteers were surprised to learn that a significant number of Seattle school children face hunger each weekend. Many displaced students rely solely on the free breakfasts and lunches they receive at school, so weekends and breaks leave them without a reliable source of food. Every Friday during the school year, our volunteers pack bags of nutritious, easy-to-eat food and drop them at area K-8 schools, where they are distributed to students in need. In addition, boxes of healthy snacks are delivered to area high schools for hungry older teens. Powered by volunteers and strengthened through donations, Backpack Brigade aims to provide better food to more of Seattle’s hungry children each weekend. We are proud to be a recognized and licensed 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

See us in action



Our Generous Sponsors & Donors

Our Board

We are a working board that started in the fall of 2014 with one school and a few bags of food. We got our official 501(c)(3) incorporation in June of 2015, and have grown to serve 21 schools with over 700 bags each week. Click or tap our pictures below for bios.

Nichelle Hilton
Executive Director

Nichelle felt the call to start the program after being moved by the documentary "A Place at the Table". She and several volunteers started by delivering eight bags to a local school and since then have grown the program into what it is now. She has always worked for the benefit of children and always at non-profit. She has five daughters, runs a farm, and loves books and animals.

Missy Zumwalt

Seattle native, Missy Zumwalt, is a long-time advocate for Seattle public school children. As co-chair of Tutu’s Pantry at Stevens Elementary she coordinates a weekend backpack program, fundraises to cover “Project Second Serving” and coordinates an annual comp program to ensure all children at the school can participate in community building events. Prior to her work at Stevens, she chaired the McGilvra Garden Committee for 4 years. Professionally, she focused her Marketing and product development expertise on luxury goods including Chanel Beauté, Frédèric Fekkai Beauté and Jacuzzi Whirlpool Bath. Missy received her B.A. in English Literature from Bryn Mawr College and her M.B.A. from University of Washington. She is mother to three kids and a mini Australian Shepherd.

Ryan Kadletz
Board Member

Born in Seattle and raised in Southern California, Ryan returned to the northwest in 1993 to attend the University of Washington, where he walked on the nationally ranked Husky Football team and earned a scholarship. He is an active member in the community, having coached Queen Anne Little League Baseball and Seattle Prep Football. In addition, Ryan was a YouthCare board member for two years. Outside of real estate he enjoys family time with his wife and two daughters.

Jay Leon
Board Member

In pursuit of his passion for kids and education, Jay has twice served as President of the Emerald City Rotary Club in Seattle, and served on the boards of Emerald City Rotary, League of Education Voters, and Seattle Arts and Lectures. He has participated on Social Venture Partners’ grant committee for K-12 education, and SVPs Education Collective Action Team, and served as the lead partner for SAL’s Writers in the Schools program.

In his role as President of Emerald City Rotary (’95-’96; ’16-’17) and its pursuit of the mission: “dedicated to the future of our community by serving the educational needs of young people” Jay has overseen grants to many local and international organizations including Seattle Urban Academy, Year Up, Seattle Music Partners, Seattle Children’s Playgarden, Tutu’s Pantry, the Backpack Brigade, the EKARI Foundation, WOZA Soccer, an over 100 college scholarships through the Henry Nielsen Educational Achievement Fund and the Emerald City Rotary Servant Leadership Scholarship.

Jay has a BA from the University of Washington in Speech Communications and is the founder of CSG Channels, a marketing services firm for the technology industry with clients including Microsoft, Dell, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Brocade, and Avaya. Since selling CSG in 2013 Jay has consulted with large and small technology companies and seized every opportunity to race large and small sailboats. He lives in Seattle with his wife Lindsey and Portuguese Water Dog “Buddy”.

Aga Scheurich
Board Member

Aga Scheurich was introduced to Nichelle and Backpack Brigade through her employer, Homestreet Bank, in 2014. Shortly after, inspired by the organization’s involvement in the local community, she and her colleagues started delivering bags of food to local schools. Aga was born in Poland and moved to Seattle in 2011. She received her MA in International Relations from Wroclaw University of Economics in Poland and has since worked in the marketing and banking fields. In her free time she enjoys taking long walks, traveling and reading.

April Schmidt
Board Member

April moved to the Seattle Area from California in 2004 for her retail career. She has worked in various roles, for different Companies, for 30 years. She specialized in driving sales through special events, recruiting top talent and leading teams to deliver results.

Recently retired from a District Manager position at Swarovski Crystal, she was looking for fulfilling opportunities to give back to the community when she found Backpack Brigade through the Volunteer Match site. She originally started out driving to schools one day a week, but quickly fell in love with the program, the team and its goal to feed the children. She then began to volunteer a second day a week as a packer. She enjoys skiing, fishing, hiking and the challenge of summiting the beautiful mountains here in the Pacific Northwest.

Abbee Hilton
Board Member

Abbee Hilton grew up volunteering for her mom’s projects, and that has never stopped. She is passionate about children’s rights, and Backpack Brigade's mission to feed hungry kids. She is getting her masters in health administration with a focus on finance, and currently works in financial investments. She loves to travel, read and has seen every movie made (almost). Welcome our new board secretary!