Blessings in a Backpack Grand Ledge is now in its third year of operation, providing weekend food to children who are at risk for food insecurity during the school year in the Grand Ledge Public Schools. A child who is considered at risk for food insecurity may have inconsistent access to food at home.

Blessings in a Backpack Grand Ledge is providing weekend food to 240 children in who may be at risk for food insecurity in the 2014-15 school year. While the free and reduced lunch programs feed the impoverished children during the school week, we aim to make sure that these children are fed on the weekends by providing them with a bag of nutritious, kid-friendly food on Fridays during the school year. All children should show up to school on Mondays well fed and ready to learn.

An October 20, 2014, report in JAMA Pediatrics Pediatrics found that one in four children in the US is food insecure. According to the Kids Count in Michigan data, there has been a 53% increase in the rate of children who qualified for federal food assistance between 2005-2012 in Eaton County.

In a December 2013 Kids Count in Michigan news release, Jane Zehnder-Merrell director at the Michigan League for Public Policy, stated that while the recession has officially ended, the toll on children is still apparent because, as research has shown, there is a deep, lifelong impact on children who grow up in poverty due to deprivation in their early childhood years.

Included in the 240 students we provide weekend food to are 16 students that the Grand Ledge High School counselors have identified as beig “couch homeless,” meaning that they live on the couches of friends and family. Principal Dawn Kennaugh at Beagle Elementary School recently discovered that 19 of her students are in transient living situations. Sadly, it was recently reported that there are 31,000 homeless students in Michigan .

Thanks to donations from community members, businesses, service clubs and foundations, we have been able to fund the program again for the 2014-15 school year. In spite of some significant food cost increases, we still have a little left over to add about 15 more students to our program.

If your child is enrolled in the free/reduced lunch program at school and could us some food to tide him/her over on the weekends this school year, get in touch with your school contact and ask for a permission letter that you can fill out and return.

NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin said, “If we can conquer space, we can conquer childhood hunger.” If you wish to help us conquer childhood hunger in Grand Ledge and Wacousta, please consider us worthy of a tax deductible donation in your holiday giving plans. $100 feeds a school child for the school year (for more information on making a donation, click here )

On behalf of the steering committee of Blessings in a Backpack Grand Ledge, we wish you a Happy Holiday season.

Tina Erskine, Program Founder


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