Throughout the United States, there are children who attend school who are undernourished or underfed because of their family’s limited finances. According to statistics released by Blessings in a Backpack organization, 12.4 million children at risk of hunger and over 60% of children in the United States public school system are on the reduced or free meal program. It is known that hungry children do not achieve higher academic achievement and are more often sicker than others who receive proper nourishment. A hungry child does not pay attention in class, may display behavioral problems and is unable to pay attention to classroom instruction. A child who has a compromised food intake may be subject to increased hospitalization rates and a weaker immune system. To combat these dreary statistics, Blessings in a Backpack comes to the head of the classroom.
Purpose of the Blessings in a Backpack
Blessings in a Backpack organization is a non profit 501C(3) organization which feeds over 25000 children located in 21 states and the countries of Columbia and Canada in its weekend nourishment program. Partnerships between individuals and organizations join together to feed the school children who are targeted as food insecure. Blessings in a Backpack was started in 2005 by Stan Curtis who previously developed Kentucky Harvest and USA Harvest for the last 20 years. Mr. Curtis started Blessings in a Backpack in two schools near Louisville, Kentucky. His current position involves developing and managing new and current school programs.
In partnership with corporate sponsors, Blessings in a Backpack is able to provide millions of weekend nourishment to school children in need. Meijer, a major food retailer was the first corporate supporter to proved discounted weekly menu items to participating schools in the Blessings in a Backpack program. A Board of Directors rounds out the staff in assisting the implementation of the Blessings in a Backpack Program.
Who can Become Involved?
Anyone and Everyone! Community organizations, individuals, employers and employees, students, teachers and others can lend a hand in developing a Blessings in a Backpack (BIB) program in your community. Clubs and organizations may elect to conduct fund raising activities to finance the costs of backpacks and food to place into the backpacks or collect new or gently used backpacks for children at risk for hunger. Some supporters hold backpack drives and contact local retailers for innovative suggestions for obtaining backpacks for distribution to the children in the Blessings in a Backpack program.
How does Blessings in a Backpack Work?
Each Friday in the participating school, the student is given a backpack filled with such staples as fruit roll-ups, macaroni and cheese, cereal and other such staple items that are easy to prepare to consume during the weekend. The items are non-perishable and kid-friendly. When the children return to school Monday, the backpacks are returned and filled again the following Friday and distributed to the students to take home. An $80 donation supplies enough food items for one year for each student. States with the highest food insecurity include New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Maine, South Carolina, Georgia, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Blessings in a Backpack has a presence in North America, Columbia, Canada, South America as well as various locations in the US.
The Blessings in a Backpack program reports positive results indicating that students have improved test scores, exhibit less behavior problems and have better school attendance. For more information on adopting a school as a Blessings in a Backpack sponsor, to research volunteer opportunities for the Blessings in a Backpack program to spearhead a fund raising drive, to partner with a Blessings in a Backpack program as a corporate supporter or to donate money or new or gently used backpacks, call 1-800-872-4366. Visit on line at http://blessingsinabackpack.org . You can contact BIB by writing to Blessings in a Backpack, 1839 Brownsboro Rd, Louisville, KY 40206.
We can make a difference in improving lives of children who are at nutritional risk and help them achieve all that they are capable of achieving. Hats off to the Blessings in a Backpack program. May you have increased support as you continue your humanitarian efforts.