one little apple started something big


One little apple started something big.

In 2005, Missy Hammerstrom was volunteering at an elementary school in Louisville, Ky., and was eating lunch when a little girl asked for her apple.

Missy asked why.

The girl said, “I’m taking it home so I can eat it this weekend.”

Missy was heartbroken by the thought that kids in her community were going home hungry. That day, she knew what she had to do.

She told her husband to clear out the garage. She went to the store and bought backpacks. And she filled those backpacks with food.

That weekend, Missy fed 30 kids. And Blessings in a Backpack was born.

Today, Blessings in a Backpack is a nationally known organization, feeding over 87,000 kids on the weekends throughout the school year in 45 states.
And just like the very beginning, Blessings continues to be staffed almost totally by volunteers.

And to believe it all started with one little apple.

Sadly, Missy passed away in 2010, but her legacy lives on every Friday
Missy Hammerstrom’s Family of the school year when kids leave school with a backpack full of food.

In September 2018, Missy’s family joined Blessings in a Backpack staff at Engelhard Elementary School in Louisville to pack and distribute more than 400 bags of food for the weekend.


Missy Hammerstrom
Missy Hammerstrom
blessings in a backpack missy hammerstrom


In 2008, a Michigan parent, was reading an article on how Hilary Duff had adopted a school in Los  Angeles for a new program called “Blessings in a Backpack”. She knew that she couldn’t just put down the article and forget about it because the thought of hungry children kept haunting her.  She wondered if there were children within her own community on the free and reduced fee lunch program that could benefit from such a program.

When she did her research, she was truly surprised to find out how many children, within her community, were on the free or reduced fee lunch program. It broke her heart to think, while her own children were so fortunate, there were so many of her children’s peers were struggling to have a meal on the weekend.

The Avondale School District was the first school district in Michigan and serves children from Auburn Hills, and parts of Rochester Hills, Troy and Bloomfield Hills.  The Avondale School District was the first in the United States to provide meals to all their districts at-risk children, striving to achieve the goal that no student in the entire district will be hungry on the weekend.  Avondale’s initiative is an example to all schools on how we can demonstrate caring about the well-being of all children beyond the classroom.

For the 2008/2008 school year we started in one community with seven schools. Each year the program has expanded. Under the Community Foundation of Greater Rochester the program has expanded to 21 communities and 117 schools and still growing.