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Blessings in a Backpack expands Wabash program

By Joseph Slacian

The number of students served by the Wabash Blessings in a Backpack organization has grown substantially this school year.

The increase, according to Megan Henderson, Wabash County Program Coordinator, is because the local program started serving students at the Wabash Middle School.

Blessings in a Backpack is a non-profit organization that feeds school children in the United States who currently are fed during the week on the federally funded Free and Reduced Meal Program and are at risk of going hungry on the weekends.

“Every single pre-K through sixth grade student who is food insecure and qualifies for free and reduced school lunch, every single student in Wabash County is now eligible to receive food,” Henderson told The Paper of Wabash County.

The Wabash program serves students in the Wabash City Schools and MSD of Wabash County districts. North Manchester has its own Blessings program to serve Manchester Community Schools.

Last week, volunteers in the Wabash program packed 529 bags for students in eight schools, including Emmanuel Christian, St. Bernard’s and the L.H. Carpenter Early Learning Center.

“In the last 20 weeks that we’ve been packing, ever Friday, total, we’ve served, 9,326 students meals,” she said. “Our goal is to serve 32 school weeks this year. We’ve got 12 weeks left.”

Volunteers gather at Trinity Lutheran Church every Thursday evening to pack food to serve the students over the weekend, except on weeks when there are eLearning days scheduled on Fridays. Those weeks, the bags are packed on Wednesday evenings.

“There are about 10 items that we send with each student,” Henderson said. “Last year, McClure’s Orchard out of Peru donated apples for three months, so that was a huge help. We always want to incorporate fresh fruit.

“Because we’ve added more students, we’re at about 30 or 40 more students per week than last year. We’re really trying to get creative with monetary donations or, if families, individuals or organizations want to donate anything … we’ll take cups of mac and cheese, canned pasta, granola bars, gummies. They can always drop that food off when we pack on Thursday nights at 5:30 at Trinity Lutheran.”

Some local businesses have events planned to help the Blessings program.

On Monday, Feb. 17, Goodfella’s Pizza is hosting “Make a Difference Monday.” A percentage of the profits will be donated to Blessings.

On Thursday, Feb. 20, Tiny Threads in downtown Wabash is hosting “Tiny Acts of Kindness,” and Blessings will be the featured charity. From 5 to 7:30 p.m., a percentage of the store’s profits will be donated to Blessings, and shoppers can also bring in canned pasta or mac and cheese and receive savings.

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, Knights of Columbus will host a night of bingo to benefit Blessings in a Backpack.

“We’re just always so thankful,” Henderson said. “Businesses have reached out to us. Organizations, different businesses and volunteers and groups have come to pack. We average about 20 people on a Thursday to come and pack. We’ve had a lot of people just pop in.”

Community support, she said, is a key in making the program successful.

“Looking ahead toward next school year, I’m a little nervous about providing still 10 items with our budget,” Henderson said.

“But, the community pulls through.”

Anyone interested in learning how to help Blessings, or for information on how to make donations, contact Henderson at blessedmeganh@gmail.com, or check out the Blessing’s Facebook page, Blessings in a Backpack – Wabash County.
 

Posted on 2020 Feb 11