According to the Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, more than 31 million schoolchildren receive low-cost or free lunches through the National School Lunch Program. Almost 385,000 of those kids were from Colorado. Our state has the fastest-rising rate of childhood poverty in the nation, and many parents depend on school meals to provide a substantial portion of their kids' daily nutrition needs.
But what happens to those kids when they don't have school? One organization is helping to make sure local kids don't go hungry once the bell rings for weekend break. Each Friday, Blessings in a Backpack provides take-home snacks to 50 children at an elementary school in Aurora (for privacy reasons, we won't say which one). Kids receive a bag of food containing six kid-friendly items—like cheese and crackers, granola bars, fruit snacks, and oatmeal—to tide them through the weekend.
Teachers give names of the kids they think would benefit most from the program to the school psychologist and social worker. Local volunteers never know who the children are. "Blessings in a Backpack seems like such a simple concept, but something that seems so little really makes a big impact on the lives of the children that receive it," says one social worker.
Get Involved: Donate to Blessings in a Backpack here. Identify that your donation should go to support the program in Aurora by checking the "Specific Area" box in the designated section. The national office sends a check written to a local grocery store, which a local volunteer uses to buy large quantities of food. You could also coordinate your own food drive, but remember: Everyone must get the same thing, so there must be 50 (or multiples of 50) of every item.
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock