Blessings in a Backpack is a national program that began in Kentucky when a teacher noticed children at her school, who were on a free or reduced lunch program, would return to school on Mondays tired, hungry and sluggish. She realized there was little or no food for the children to eat at home on the weekends. In July, 2005, Blessings in a Backpack was formed to provide these students with backpacks of food to provide 3 meals a day during the weekend. The organization worked with the owner of Meijer, to provide the food at a nominal charge. Concerned citizens stepped forward and donated new backpacks for each child which enabled them to carry the food home.
This program has been successfully started in forty-six states in over 1,000 schools. The program is overseen by a multi-member Board of Directors from all walks of life that have one thing in common, they care about the future of our children.
In 2008, a Michigan parent, was reading an article on how Hilary Duff had adopted a school in Los Angeles for a new program called “Blessings in a Backpack”. She knew that she couldn’t just put down the article and forget about it because the thought of hungry children kept haunting her. She wondered if there were children within her own community on the free and reduced fee lunch program that could benefit from such a program.
When she did her research, she was truly surprised to find out how many children, within her community, were on the free or reduced fee lunch program. It broke her heart to think, while her own children were so fortunate, there were so many of her children’s peers were struggling to have a meal on the weekend.
The Avondale School District was the first school district in Michigan and serves children from Auburn Hills, and parts of Rochester Hills, Troy and Bloomfield Hills. The Avondale School District was the first in the United States to provide meals to all their districts at-risk children, striving to achieve the goal that no student in the entire district will be hungry on the weekend. Avondale’s initiative is an example to all school districts in Michigan on how we can demonstrate caring about the well-being of all children beyond the classroom.
For the 2008/2009 school year we started in one community with 7 schools. Each year the program in Michigan has expanded to over 100 schools and still growing.