Blessings in a Backpack is a program designed to help meet the nutritional needs of children and families over the weekends. The first food distribution to schoolchildren was established in 2005 as an outreach of USA Harvest at one school in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Stan Curtis, who was instrumental in establishing this program through his work with USA Harvest, has remained the chief spokesperson and has grown the program nationally to school districts in many states.
The reason for implementing the Blessings in a Backpack program was because teachers were noticing that children at their schools, who were on free or reduced fee lunch programs, would return to school on Mondays tired, hungry and sluggish because there was little or no food for them to eat at home on the weekends.
A backpack is sent home each Friday, with a qualifying student, filled with food and returned on Monday to be refilled for the following Friday.
Each backpack contains several pounds of foods such as tuna, peanut butter, macaroni and cheese, fruit juices, pastas, oatmeal, fruit bars, and crackers. The food is provided at reduced costs through special arrangements with the Meijer grocery chain. If Meijer’s does not service a local community, then arrangements are made with other community providers.
The students that are eligible for this program are participants in a government subsidized free or reduced fee hot lunch program in each school. At any given time over 24 million adults and 13.3 million children (2007 statistics) cannot access food consistently and have to reduce food intake, eat poor diets and often go without any food.
When the national economy takes a drastic downturn and unemployment grows to record levels across all segments of the population, food insecurity becomes prevalent. Food insecurity for families is the inability to access food in a consistent manner, requiring emergency food assistance, while always trying to have enough to feed the children. Adults in food insecure households may skip meals so the children can receive nutrition.
The Blessings in a Backpack program helps those families meet their nutritional needs on weekends when the students don’t have access to the meals they receive at school.
With the help of national spokesperson Hilary Duff (TV’s Lizzie McGuire), groups of concerned community leaders, philanthropic and business partners, caring citizens and you, Blessings in a Backpack has become a driving force against childhood hunger in the United States.
Who We Are
The North Woodward Community Foundation manages the Blessings in a Backpack program component funds for participating school districts in Michigan. Through the association with this 501(C)(3) non-profit organization, all donations are tax deductible and may be eligible for a Michigan Tax Credit.