‘Blessings in a Backpack’ Helps Ensure Students Don’t Go Hungry

Posted Friday, October 1, 2021.

20211001 BIAB

HUNTINGTON – Volunteers with the local Blessings in a Backpack chapter see to it that children in food insecure households have meals and snacks to take home over the weekend, and their work continues despite supply chain challenges posed by the ongoing public health emergency.

“COVID has made it difficult to get food,” said local Blessings in a Backpack committee member Dana Meyer. “Stores will not let you buy in bulk, so we have to rely on Community Harvest Food Bank and food drive donations from churches.”

Hunger and proper nourishment is directly tied to better school attendance, academic performance and overall mental and physical health.

Several local churches, non-profits and businesses have stepped up in recent months to pitch in with food donations and volunteer hours. Their contributions and generosity have allowed Blessings in a Backpack to continue serving more than 400 students in five Huntington County elementary schools, Meyer said.

Within these schools – Lincoln, Flint Springs, Horace Mann, Andrews and Salamonie – there are nearly 1,000 students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, and Blessings in a Backpack strives to serve as many of them as possible. In 2021, more than 40 percent of these students will receive food through the program.

To be eligible a child must be on the free or reduced lunch program and a caregiver must sign a permission form. Each week, volunteers drive the packed food to the participating schools. It is then distributed to teachers, who in turn discreetly place it in a child’s backpack when the classroom is empty.

“The teachers will select those that are most in need to receive a permission slip,” Meyer said. “They know the kids best and know their situation.”

The cost per child is about $130 annually and about 1 in 6 children nationwide struggle with access to food, according to the national Blessings in a Backpack website. Monetary donations of any amount can be made online at blessingsinabackpack.org or by mailing a check to 1515 N. Jefferson St., Huntington, IN 46750.

“Huntington County, IN schools” must be specified in the online form or in the check’s memo line.

Mayor Richard Strick signed a proclamation Friday afternoon during a ceremony at the Huntington City Building recognizing the local Blessings in a Backpack group and encouraging the Huntington community to back its efforts.

Blessings in a Backpack committee members Sharon Pulver and Craig Johnson attended Friday's signing ceremony and reported that volunteers to help package food is one of their biggest ongoing needs. Any group or organization interested in volunteering in Huntington County can contact the group at biabhuntingtonco@gmail.com or by calling (260) 433-9854.

Contact Us

300 Cherry St
Huntington, IN 46750

  • Phone: (260) 356-1400
  • Staff Directory