About Backpack Brigade
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.
Now, 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 and sponsors, 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, tax ID 47-4086877
Teachers are saying
"Rarely am I able to hand families something tangible that can effect immediate change. Handing out the backpacks of food does just that. It has become something to look forward to for many students. We are incredibly lucky to have Nichelle and the Y supporting our community!"
The Schools We Serve
We regularly feed kids from in over 26 elementary and K-8 schools, from North Seattle to South.
Contact us if you are interested in receiving meals for your child at one of these locations
Special Covid-19 Meal Service
During the coronavirus pandemic we are supporting the Seattle Public Schools' plan for providing student meals, including meal delivery at all of their 26 distribution sites. For full details click here.
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.
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.
Mary Ellen Osthus
Board Member | Secretary
Mary Ellen Osthus began volunteering with Backpack Brigade during the Covid-19 lockdown. She feels an urgency to address food insecurity in our school communities and is honored to be part of the Backpack Brigade mission.
Mary Ellen grew up in Seattle, has a degree in English from the University of Washington and enjoyed a long career with home-town retailer Nordstrom. She is currently Director of Planning for Men's and Women's Sportswear at Eddie Bauer.
Mary Ellen has two college aged sons and lives in Seattle with her husband Scott. In her free time she keeps busy sailing, gardening, cooking, reading and taking urban hikes with Scott.
Board Member | Marketer
A native of Honduras, Mariela has provided executive assistant support to C-Suite level executives in both the healthcare and retail industries of Fortune 500 Companies. She has specialized in business development and project management in the retail industries, in leadership roles for the planning and implementation of strategic corporate sponsor presence at events including the US Open Golf Tournament, the James Beard Taste America event, and at various annual corporate shareholder meetings. Mariela enjoys helping others both through her career and via her dedicated commitment to volunteering with local organizations such as the YWCA, United Way, and Seattle Backpack Brigade. Being able to problem solve and provide lasting solutions are strengths she provides to those with whom she collaborates. During her spare time, she is an avid cook and baker, and enjoys spending time with her young family in Seattle.
Board Member | Marketer
Looking for a way to give back and get involved, Michael Lemieux was introduced to the mission and work of Backpack Brigade through his fiancé who works for Highline Public Schools. His focus is on marketing and increasing the awareness of Backpack Brigade to help meet the needs of the community. Michael grew up in the Seattle area and holds a bachelor’s degree of Business Administration from Gonzaga University with concentrations in Marketing, International Business and has a French minor. He is currently a Senior Marketing Manager has been with Skanska since 2011. In his current role, he works with project teams to brand and market office and multi-family development projects. In his spare time, Michael can be found working on indoor/outdoor projects, playing volleyball, or spending time with family.
Maria Elena Garcia Zapata
Board Member | Finance
Maria Elena has supported a few non profits living in US since 2000. Volunteering at the Mexican Cultural Center and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia, PA; as a Finance Officer for Inclen, Inc (an organization of scientists founded by the Rockefeller foundation in the east coast conducting studies on high priority global health issues as child health and chronic diseases); and, lately as a member of Team for Kids in NY (recognized as a leader in the fight against childhood obesity and health issues). Maria Elena lives at the north of Seattle with her husband Greg and she also has been an active CPA, supporting Finance departments as a Controller, for the past 15 years. Maria Elena became a runner to enjoy more of the WA State parks.
Sara Call is a teacher in Seattle Public Schools and has been working with students from diverse backgrounds for over 20 years.
Board Member | Nutritionist
Marcy MacAdam moved to Seattle in 2018. She received her BS in Nutrition from Central Washington University and has been an active member of multiple youth organizations. Although her education is in nutrition, she worked as a dental professional for 15 years before relocating to Seattle. Her interests are anything food and anything outdoors.
Board Member | Fundraising
Bahareh Samanian began volunteering with Backpack Brigade in early 2021. As a mother of two young children, Bahareh was immediately drawn to the opportunity to roll up her sleeves and pack bags that would directly help hungry children in the area. Bahareh grew up in the Seattle area and attended local schools including the University of Washington for undergraduate studies and Seattle University School of Law for law school. After practicing law as a litigator for nine years, Bahareh made a career shift to return to her law school alma mater and help law students and alumni find jobs during the legal recession. She moved into a director role with the alumni relations and advancement team at Seattle University School of Law before joining Davis Wright Tremaine, where she led Lawyer Talent Acquisition nationally for six years. Bahareh is currently a national legal recruiter and the founder of Bahareh Legal, LLC where she is focused on diversifying the partnership at national law firms, corporate legal departments, and the C-Suite. Bahareh enjoys family hikes in new destinations, yoga, and trying new recipes and cuisines. Bahareh is excited to bring her strategic background in outreach, fundraising, and development to Backpack Brigade to help them exceed their fundraising goals. If you would like to become a corporate sponsor, please contact Bahareh.
Board Member | Member at Large
Drawn to the mission of putting an end to weekend hunger for children, Bryce Hanson become involved with Backpack Brigade as a volunteer driver in 2021. Bryce has a degree in English from Western Washington University and following a near 20-year career at Amazon, now owns a consulting business and volunteers with organizations that address food insecurity. Bryce lives in Seattle with his wife Katy and their two daughters. In his free time, Bryce loves to play guitar, ski, hike, ride his bicycle, and hang out with his dog Holly.
Board Member | Member at Large
A greater Seattle native, Meghan has always been passionate about social justice and local community impact, particularly as it relates to ensuring our community’s children have the resources and opportunities to thrive. Meghan has previously held board and committee positions with Seattle nonprofits, The Goodtimes Project, and Teens In Public Service. She is particularly passionate about education, housing, and wellness. As Senior Manager, Public Affairs, for AT&T’s Corporate Social Responsibility team, Meghan directs philanthropic strategy for a portfolio of 20+ nonprofits in the education space, as part of AT&T’s company-wide Connected Learning initiative.
Meghan holds an MBA from Pepperdine University with concentrations in Organizational Behavior and Marketing. Prior to graduate school, she studied Psychology at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts before working as an event planner for two hotel groups (The Charles Hotel and Hyatt Hotels) in Boston. Cultivated by her roots in hospitality, Meghan remains quite a food and wine enthusiast, having chaired various nonprofit galas, luncheons, and wine auctions over the years. She is excited to bring her event skills and enthusiasm to the Backpack Brigade team and elevate its already outstanding impact on weekend hunger in Puget Sound.
Board Member | Member at Large
Nick Stoner is a passionate advocate for childhood learning and development who recognizes that a nutritious diet is essential for children to grow and succeed. He has been involved in educational causes since high school, where he was a member of the Seattle International Film Festival's Futurewave Committee (high school outreach group). He has served in an ESL classroom and started two learning-focused student organizations–a startup club at Bellevue College and an Analytics Club at the University of Washington–which offered multiple teaching workshops per quarter.
In December 2020, Nick packed his first weekend hunger bag with Backpack Brigade. Since then, he has become an active volunteer and organizer of corporate volunteering events with Backpack Brigade through his employer. He is also a Board Member At-Large at Backpack Brigade, where he supports marketing, digital, and event efforts.
Nick lives in Seattle and works as an Advisory Consultant at Deloitte. He holds degrees in Business Administration and Economics from the University of Washington and is a Certified Public Accountant in Washington. In his free time, Nick enjoys running, reading, graphic design, and learning history.