Needs are great during holidays for thousands of area children
FORT MYERS, Fla. (Nov. 20, 2019) – Blessings come in special packages for almost 4,800 Lee County school children each week. Without the blessings of food provided by Blessings in a Backpack of SWFL, these children and their families would go hungry on the weekends.
During the holidays, the need grows as kids are home from school. Blessings in a Backpack once again needs your help and has designated Tuesday, Dec. 3 as Giving Tuesday. People are asked to go to the local organization’s website at blessingsinswfl.org where there is a donate button and make a contribution. Giving Tuesday follows the holiday buying themes of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
A donation of $100 can feed one child for an entire school year. Blessings in a Backpack focuses on children in kindergarten through fifth grade who qualify for the free and reduced meal program at Title 1 schools because “that is the group growing brain wise,” said Cecilia St. Arnold, national program manager and executive director of Blessings in a Backpack SWFL. “The goal has always been the educational component. We want the children to come back to school not depleted and ready to learn.”
Targeting Title 1 schools is important because those schools are primarily made up of children from low income families and they need the help the most. Hungry children is a country and county epidemic. Consider that approximately 62,000 children in the Lee school district are food insufficient. Currently, funding only allows Blessings in a Backpack to help only a small portion of them. St. Arnold’s goal is to one day be able to help at least half – or 31,000 – of those children.
“It’s our own kids, our own backyard,” she said. “This is our future workforce. We have to take care of our own kids.”
Donations from a generous community are making a difference. St. Arnold said Blessings in a Backpack Is feeding 3,000 more children than it did five years ago.
Nationally, the number of hungry children is staggering. According to Blessings in a Backpack statistics, more than 13 million children live in food insecure homes. Three out of four teachers say they have children in their classrooms who regularly come to school hungry. One in six children do not get the food they need each day.
Business support, especially in delivering food to the children, is essential for the non-profit. Sysco has stepped up to deliver the bags of food to each of the schools. From there, the kid friendly, nutritious, ready-to-eat meals are placed in the children’s backpacks on Fridays.
Blessings in a Backpack helps prevent hunger
Blessings in a Backpack steps up where federal aid stops by feeding children on the weekend. Every Friday afternoon, children receive packages filled with nutritious, kid-friendly, ready-to-eat food items. Students return to school every Monday morning with a full stomach and an eager mind. In partnership with Lee and Collier county schools, Blessings in a Backpack has helped dramatically improve test scores, reading skills, behavior and general health. Kids are our future; you can help secure theirs. Donations of all sizes are welcome through the donations portal at blessingsinswfl.org or via mail at P.O. Box 61402 Fort Myers, FL 33906. All contributions are tax-deductible.