LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There are more than 64,000 children in the Louisville area alone that qualify for food handed out by Blessings in a Backpack, the nonprofit says. However, the student meal supplier can only currently afford to give out take-home food items to just more than 5,100 kids.
Blessings in a Backpack, founded in Louisville, needs the help of donors to continue getting food out to children. That's because the coronavirus pandemic canceled some of its crucial fundraisers.
Each weekend, there are needs to fill pantries inside many homes. That starts by filling students' backpacks.
"I think it's easy for people to forget about what these kids do on the weekend," Kim Holsclaw, managing director of the Louisville Blessings in a Backpack chapter says. "You know right now, they're getting free breakfast and lunch through the school system, which they typically do throughout the school year as well. Those same kids go home with nothing to eat on the weekend.
"I can't imagine trying to come back to school on Monday, after going 65 hours with nothing to eat and then be expected to concentrate, to learn, to behave. I mean it's just not possible for us to ask that of these little kids," she says.
Staff with Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) Nutrition Services provides breakfasts and lunches for students at drive-up meal sites on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Kids can get enough of the meals to fill the days in between, too. By the end of May, they will have served more than one million meals. They will continue this through the end of the year, and into summer programs if USDA waivers to allow it is continued.
"Things are changing. Grandparents are watching grandchildren, so we're seeing needs in different areas of the city that we normally don't have a lot of great need in, and I think as this economic situation develops, the need will only get greater," assistant director Dan Ellnor says.
"We just hope that people don't forget about us during this time because we're still fulfilling a critical need," Holsclaw adds. While the nonprofit is funded to last the year and into a summer program, the fall is uncertain. There are fundraisers set for June and August now up in the air because of the pandemic.