Blessings in a Backpack program brings healthy food to students on weekends

News Sep 25, 2013 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

With students now back in school, meal programs are helping to ensure many at-risk youngsters have healthy food throughout the week.

A program being run out of midtown Toronto is striving to ensure those same students don’t go hungry on weekends.

Blessings in a Backpack currently gets food into the hands of some 970 children and youth across the city, specifically in communities such as the Grange, Parkdale, Downsview, Humber and Scarborough.

“The kids we serve are considered food insecure, which means they’re struggling with hunger,” said Karen Green, executive director of the Toronto branch of Blessings in a Backpack. “They get a backpack filled with food every Friday and they return it to us empty on Monday.”

The food in the backpacks is purchased through donations, with the organization making the most of discounts and donations from food suppliers. While the organization strives to make the food as healthy as possible, the students must also get items that are as easy as possible to prepare.

“Often, these kids don’t have homes or stoves,” Green said. “They’re living on people’s couches.”

Blessings in a Backpack originated in the U.S. and came to Toronto in 2008, helping students at two schools in the city.

The organization has expanded ever since – it was affiliated with eight Toronto schools last year and is looking to expand to one more this year.

Though Blessings in a Backpack does not publicize the schools it works with due to privacy concerns, there is little question it would be welcome in far more schools across the city.

“I don’t know if we could ever feed every kid that needs it,” Green said.

Because its aim is to serve children and youth, the program is heavily reliant on donations and volunteers, with many teachers, administrators and parents in schools doing their part to ensure as many children as possible have healthy food on weekends.

Green said the organization relies almost entirely on personal donations and foundation grants, with no government funding. She is always eager to hear from others who want to donate.

“It only takes $100 to feed a kid for a full (school) year based on the discounts and donations we get,” she said.

Blessings in a Backpack also encourages people to hold backpack drives, where they collect new or gently-used backpacks to help the program expand.

The program is a key to ensuring students are on more equal footing in school – studies have shown that proper nutrition gives them more energy and improves their health, school attendance, ability to learn and test scores.

For more information on the program, or to make a donation, visit www.blessingsinabackpack.ca or call 416-492-3997.

Blessings in a Backpack program brings healthy food to students on weekends

News Sep 25, 2013 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

With students now back in school, meal programs are helping to ensure many at-risk youngsters have healthy food throughout the week.

A program being run out of midtown Toronto is striving to ensure those same students don’t go hungry on weekends.

Blessings in a Backpack currently gets food into the hands of some 970 children and youth across the city, specifically in communities such as the Grange, Parkdale, Downsview, Humber and Scarborough.

“The kids we serve are considered food insecure, which means they’re struggling with hunger,” said Karen Green, executive director of the Toronto branch of Blessings in a Backpack. “They get a backpack filled with food every Friday and they return it to us empty on Monday.”

The food in the backpacks is purchased through donations, with the organization making the most of discounts and donations from food suppliers. While the organization strives to make the food as healthy as possible, the students must also get items that are as easy as possible to prepare.

“Often, these kids don’t have homes or stoves,” Green said. “They’re living on people’s couches.”

Blessings in a Backpack originated in the U.S. and came to Toronto in 2008, helping students at two schools in the city.

The organization has expanded ever since – it was affiliated with eight Toronto schools last year and is looking to expand to one more this year.

Though Blessings in a Backpack does not publicize the schools it works with due to privacy concerns, there is little question it would be welcome in far more schools across the city.

“I don’t know if we could ever feed every kid that needs it,” Green said.

Because its aim is to serve children and youth, the program is heavily reliant on donations and volunteers, with many teachers, administrators and parents in schools doing their part to ensure as many children as possible have healthy food on weekends.

Green said the organization relies almost entirely on personal donations and foundation grants, with no government funding. She is always eager to hear from others who want to donate.

“It only takes $100 to feed a kid for a full (school) year based on the discounts and donations we get,” she said.

Blessings in a Backpack also encourages people to hold backpack drives, where they collect new or gently-used backpacks to help the program expand.

The program is a key to ensuring students are on more equal footing in school – studies have shown that proper nutrition gives them more energy and improves their health, school attendance, ability to learn and test scores.

For more information on the program, or to make a donation, visit www.blessingsinabackpack.ca or call 416-492-3997.

Blessings in a Backpack program brings healthy food to students on weekends

News Sep 25, 2013 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

With students now back in school, meal programs are helping to ensure many at-risk youngsters have healthy food throughout the week.

A program being run out of midtown Toronto is striving to ensure those same students don’t go hungry on weekends.

Blessings in a Backpack currently gets food into the hands of some 970 children and youth across the city, specifically in communities such as the Grange, Parkdale, Downsview, Humber and Scarborough.

“The kids we serve are considered food insecure, which means they’re struggling with hunger,” said Karen Green, executive director of the Toronto branch of Blessings in a Backpack. “They get a backpack filled with food every Friday and they return it to us empty on Monday.”

The food in the backpacks is purchased through donations, with the organization making the most of discounts and donations from food suppliers. While the organization strives to make the food as healthy as possible, the students must also get items that are as easy as possible to prepare.

“Often, these kids don’t have homes or stoves,” Green said. “They’re living on people’s couches.”

Blessings in a Backpack originated in the U.S. and came to Toronto in 2008, helping students at two schools in the city.

The organization has expanded ever since – it was affiliated with eight Toronto schools last year and is looking to expand to one more this year.

Though Blessings in a Backpack does not publicize the schools it works with due to privacy concerns, there is little question it would be welcome in far more schools across the city.

“I don’t know if we could ever feed every kid that needs it,” Green said.

Because its aim is to serve children and youth, the program is heavily reliant on donations and volunteers, with many teachers, administrators and parents in schools doing their part to ensure as many children as possible have healthy food on weekends.

Green said the organization relies almost entirely on personal donations and foundation grants, with no government funding. She is always eager to hear from others who want to donate.

“It only takes $100 to feed a kid for a full (school) year based on the discounts and donations we get,” she said.

Blessings in a Backpack also encourages people to hold backpack drives, where they collect new or gently-used backpacks to help the program expand.

The program is a key to ensuring students are on more equal footing in school – studies have shown that proper nutrition gives them more energy and improves their health, school attendance, ability to learn and test scores.

For more information on the program, or to make a donation, visit www.blessingsinabackpack.ca or call 416-492-3997.