There are more than 16.2 million children in the US who are at risk of going hungry. During the school week, many of them children are fed at school through the federally funded Free and Reduced Meal Program. While this program does great work, it goes without saying that its reach is ultimately limited. On average, students spend 180 days of the year at school. So what about the other 185 days of the year, when these kids aren’t at school? How do they get access to food? Luckily, one nonprofit, “Blessings in a Backpack”, is looking to fix this issue by providing food to these children on the weekends. I recently heard about their mission and their work, and I would love to share what I found with you.
Mission: The official mission of Blessings in a Backpack is to mobilize communities, individuals, and resources to help provide food on the weekends for elementary school children across the country who might otherwise go hungry. The negative effects of hunger go far beyond a growling belly. Poor nutrition can lead to a weaker immune system, increased hospitalization, a lower IQ, shorter attention spans, and lower school performance.
Impact: According to the Blessings in a Backpack website, the nonprofit currently feeds over 93,000 children in nearly 1100 schools in 45 US states and DC. They have partnered with Quaker Oats and the global market research company Ipsos to develop a national evaluation project that measures the impact of the program. After just one year of this project, surveyed students didn’t just not feel hungry on the weekends, they also reported plenty of other advantages:
- 59% found it easier to learn
- 60% didn’t get into trouble as much
- 78% felt cared for by the community
- 71% felt that they were helping their family
- 60% had better school attendance
How can you get involved? One of the great things about Blessings in a Backpack, beyond the work that they’re doing, is that it’s astoundingly easy to get involved at any level. For instance, you can submit note cards with positive words of encouragement for children to take home. And if you want to start a program in your community, the organization will give you the necessary tools and resources. If you’re a business, then the organization offers compelling opportunities through a variety of engaging programs. If you’d like to learn more about these different programs, then you can click here!