“I know what it’s like to go hungry” – Mother shares her journey with Blessings in a Backpack
Rachel Hartling has experienced a lot. As a single mom with a school-aged son who has special needs, she knows the feeling of worry. She needed to provide for her family, which included the expensive task of getting meals on the table.
Rachel, now employed at ORBIS Corporation, recalled the early days of caring for her son Hunter, now a junior at Waukesha North High School in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
“I first heard about Blessings in a Backpack when Hunter was in 3rd or 4th grade at Lowell Elementary School,” said Rachel. “Hunter’s deaf and hard of hearing teacher had brought it to my attention that they were starting the Blessings in a Backpack with a group of students. She asked what my thoughts were of Hunter being a part of that group. I was a little skeptical at first because I knew money was tight and wasn’t sure what I had to do at the time to join. Once his teacher explained to me that this was free and would be sent anonymously, I felt more at ease.”
At that time, Rachel wasn’t receiving any child support and had to take a job with a pay cut. She said Hunter looked forward to getting the weekend food bag.
“He enjoyed the pudding, fruit snacks, his cup of mac and cheese, ravioli, and animal crackers. This gave him a sense of independence as well,” recalled Rachel. “He could take the food he wanted and eat it whenever, or put the ravioli in the microwave himself without my help.”
While the family no longer receives food from Blessings in a Backpack, Rachel has been eternally grateful for the support.
“About three years ago, I became an employee of ORBIS Corporation. When I found out that [ORBIS] helps out with Blessings in a Backpack, I wanted to reach out to someone to say a word of thank you! One phrase Hunter said was that you knew it was Friday when you could hear the bags of food being put in the backpacks. I am so happy now that I can contribute to what was given to me when I was in need.”
She encourages others to realize the need in our own communities.