Story by Evan Frank, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Pictures by Scott Ash.

While Blessings in a Backpack of Waukesha County has been around for just six years, the impact it has made on helping to close a hunger gap for school age children is clear.

In 2012, the organization began by feeding 25 students at Hadfield School in Waukesha. Today, through fundraising efforts, grants and volunteer partnerships, Blessings feeds almost 1,200 children at Waukesha, Sussex and Oconomowoc elementary schools.

On Saturday, Oct. 13, Blessings in a Backpack of Waukesha County will host its annual ‘Bridge the Gap’ fundraiser. According to program director Regina Estrada, the event first took place in 2013 and typically has over 200 people attend.

The event has raised over $125,000 each year.

“When you think of it, we’re feeding 1,200 kids, we have a budget of $100 per child per school year,” Estrada said. “So we need to make that much money.”

This year’s ‘Bridge the Gap’ will start at 6 p.m. and go until 11. It will take place at the Ingleside Hotel, 2810 Gold Road in Waukesha.

Bridge the Gap is a reference to ensure children have food during the period when they leave school on Friday afternoons to before they arrive on Monday mornings.

Tickets may be purchased at Tickets include fine dining, auctions and musical entertainment.

Blessings distributes food to children from kindergarten to fifth grade.

“The one thing (the school districts) are very particular about is privacy,” Estrada said. “We get that. We don’t want to know the kids getting the food.

“We just have bags of food available at the schools and the schools distribute to the needy kids they know.”