Blessings in a Backpack is a results oriented program. This unique program is designed to feed elementary school children who qualify for the free and reduced meal program and may not have any or enough food on the weekends. Every Friday, students receive a backpack filled with food to bring home. They return with their empty backpacks on Monday fed and ready to learn. The process is then repeated every Friday during the school year.
In conjunction with a local grocery partner, it takes $80 to feed a child for the entire school year. We have partnered here in Jacksonville with Publix to provide food for meals in the backpacks. Over 250 schools will be adopted across the nation feeding over 60,000 children by the 2011-2012 school year. The Jacksonville program was started in June 2009, and began feeding its first schools in August 2009. We will be feeding over 1,300 hungry children every weekend during the upcoming school year.
Our goal is to continue expansion of this program across our area. The need in Jacksonville is much greater than we can currently meet. We are seeking funding to expand the Jacksonville program and your donations will be directed to First Coast schools to feed as many hungry children as possible.
We have a team of over 30 volunteers in our current schools as well as volunteers from local churches and the senior center in Jacksonville Beach who have generously donated their time to pack and distribute the backpacks every week. The community support has been fantastic as we have gotten the program off the ground. However, without additional community support, we are limited as to how much we will be able to do for the entire community.
The results of this program include improved school attendance, improved health, improved behavior, and improved test scores and reading skills. Over 60% of children in the U.S. public schools are on the free and reduced meal program, and the numbers are increasing. Unmet nutritional needs make it very difficult for children to learn, pay attention in class, and behave properly to retain what they learn. Data shows that hungry children are sick more often and have lower academic achievement.
The difference in academics, school attendance, and health between a well-nourished child and a hungry child is profound. Blessings in a Backpack is making a measurable difference in each of its participating schools.
Click here to visit Blessings in a Backpack's national website.