Thousands of kids get backpacks filled with food and love
School lunch on Friday afternoon can sometimes be the last thing a child eats until they return to school on Monday.
Who will feed the kids this weekend?
That’s the tagline for Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit organization based in Louisville, Kentucky that right now feeds 87,000 kids in 45 states.
More than 12 million children in the United States live in “food insecure” homes, according to ‘No Kid Hungry.’
Families sometimes have to choose between paying rent or feeding their children.
Volunteers and organizers of Blessings in Backpack hear those statistics and quickly mobilize to change that.
“We started to fundraise in February of 2013. Actually, it was Valentine’s Day. We gave our first bags to 42 kids in three schools. That’s how we got started and it’s just grown from there,” says Melissa Arch, a spokesperson for Blessings in a Backpack.
Arch lives in Atlanta and formed a team of volunteers in her local church and schools.
She says the bags of food they create for kids to take home carry an emotional weight.
“From what we’ve heard from the kids, they say that when they get something like this, that it comes from people that don’t even know them, that it shows them that the community out there cares about them, even though they don’t know who we are,” says Arch.
Now, as volunteers across the country pack bags of food, they also add handwritten notes.
Arch says, it’s a personal message of hope.
“You know, you might think this is nothing. It’s just words on a piece of paper,” says Arch. “But to these children, it means a huge amount because they’re getting inspired by someone who doesn’t know them. And typically, it’s someone that’s their peer.”
Schools are seeing numbers-based results of their efforts.
Arch says a local school in Atlanta reported a 100% attendance rate for children who received backpacks after one year of involvement in the program.
She hopes to inspires others to get involved in their communities because every child deserves a bag full of love.