As a mom, I have deep-rooted empathy and heartbreak at the idea of children going hungry. Whether it's in third world countries or in our own school district, the idea of a child's tummy grumbling and a parent not having the ability to feed him or her makes my heart ache.
As a food blogger, I know how lucky my children are to be exposed to new and (hopefully) yummy recipes on a regular basis. I also know how lucky my children are to have three full meals and regular snacks every day.
As a professional fundraiser, I know how hard it is for an organization to distinguish themselves enough from every other not-for-profit out there and attract enough donations to fulfill their mission and their potential.
That's why when I learned Edelman's annual corporate responsibility program "The Little Give
" was supporting Blessings In A Backpack
, I knew I had to share the amazing work this organization does.
31% of elementary school students and 62% of high school students start their day without a nutritious breakfast.
Children under 18 represent approximately 40.7% of food bank clients in Canada. This representation is directly tied to the level of household income, 50% of recipients are families with children.
It's hard to believe that in Canada, one of the world's richest countries, statistics like these could possibly be true — but they are.
Thankfully, in many of the schools where poverty and food insecurity are especially present, breakfast and lunch programs have been implemented. But hunger doesn't take the weekend off and that's where Blessings In A Backpack
Blessings In A Backpack
provides backpacks filled with food every Friday for food insecure kids to take home and return the backpack empty on Monday, ready to start their week. How does this simple act help? Here's what Violet has to say: “I like taking the backpack home because sometimes when we don’t have money for food, the backpack really helps. We keep some of the food for our school lunches on Monday. We like bringing the backpack home because we know we will have more food for the weekend.” – Violet, Grade 5
There are added benefits to feeding children on the weekend as well—attendance at school and productivity soar, students report greater attentiveness and improved energy; teachers see improvements in study habits and demeanour, and parents feel relief and support for their own family.
“The continuous effort required of a young person who is hungry—to think about eating, the urge to try and not think about the lack of food to eat—is in itself exhausting. How can we expect a child to sit still and learn under those conditions?” – Adam Markwell, President of Blessings in a Backpack Canada.
The results of ensuring children do not go hungry either during school hours or on the weekends are huge and impactful. It's not just about ensuring that tummies don't grumble, it's about changing lives and putting value on the lives, the education, and the well-being of every single Canadian child no matter their parents' income.
If you live in the Toronto area, I urge you to get involved, to learn more about Blessings In A Backpack
and to help support their work. Because Blessings In A Backpack
purchases food at a reduced rate, your donation of only $100 can feed one child on the weekends for an entire year. Donations of new and gently used backpacks are always needed as well.
You can also hold your own challenge, just like the amazing people at Edelman who are donating employee time to help build awareness and raise funds for Blessings In A Backpack
If you live outside of Toronto you are still able to support Blessings In A Backpack
or look for other organizations in your area who help feed children in need.
Blessings In A Backpack
is taking a stand against hunger in our country, but they can't do it without our help. Every little bit helps — even the simple act of sharing the story of their work with someone else who may be able to help.