MSD hears update from Blessings in a Backpack

By Josh Sigler

The Metropolitan School District of Wabash County received an overview on how the Blessings in a Backpack program is working within their school district and others during the Tuesday, Sept. 11 meeting.

Blessings coordinator Megan Henderson was on hand to give the board an update on the volume of students who benefit from the program, which gives food to children who qualify for free and reduced lunch and may otherwise not get to eat on the weekends.

The program has been packing bags for three weeks now. Blessings packs 91 bags for students at Metro North. Southwood Elementary is receiving 81 bags for students to take home on the weekends.

Sharp Creek is receiving 63 bags, while O.J. Neighbors of Wabash City Schools receives 231 bags.

In total, 466 bags were packed for children.

The program tries to pack 10 shelf-stable items per bag per weekend for the children.

Typical items found in a bag packed by Blessings include macaroni and cheese or chicken noodle soup, two breakfast items like cereal or oatmeal, and snack items like crackers, cookies, popcorn, granola bars, gummies and fruit juice.

Food allergy sensitive students are also served, with items such as corn or raisins being substituted in for allergy-sensitive items.

“On average, we have about 80 volunteers that rotate on a weekly basis,” Henderson said. “We pack on Thursday nights. It takes about 30 minutes to pack the 466 bags. We have the food set up in totes, so you make your way down with a bag and put the food in and tie it. Then we prepare boxes with the right number of bags per teacher. The boxes are also color-coated depending on which school they go to.”

Volunteers deliver the bags on Fridays, and then volunteers also pick up the boxes.

“We have warehouse space donated to us, so we’re able to keep all the stacks of soup and snacks (together),” Henderson said. “Trinity Lutheran has been wonderful about donating our space for packing, as well.”

On average, it takes about $100 per school year to feed one student.

Blessings relies solely on donations.

“Unfortunately, food donations we’ve not been able to accept yet, just monetary,” Henderson said. “We also appreciate all the teamwork that the principals, teachers and administrators MSD has been wonderful help, making everything run smoothly. The communication is great, and we’ve heard lots of testimonies from students that don’t have food on the weekends at home. Hearing they look forward to receiving these bags on Fridays – we’re doing this for the kids. It’s great that we have so many people who love these kids in this community and help out for them.”

The school board will also vote to adopt the 2019 budget at the Sept. 25 meeting.

The board also Tuesday:

-- Heard school improvement plan presentations from each of the district’s principals.

-- Approved Cornerstone Stewards of Fort Wayne to do the work on its Southwood schools wastewater treatment improvements project. The bid, with alternatives, was accepted for under $1 million.

-- Approved the retirement of bus driver Don Sweet.

-- Approved the employment of Amy Powell as a bus driver.

Posted on 2018 Sep 18