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Center Line, Warren

March 4, 2013

Blessing in a Backpack program filling a need

By Maria Allard
C & G Staff Writer

CENTER LINE/WARREN — Two years after the Center Line Public Schools Board of Education approved bringing Blessings in a Backpack into the district, the program is finally doing what it was intended to do: feed children.

After countless fundraisers and several generous donations to get the program up and running, educators passed out their first “backpacks” this past November. The program provides meals on the weekends to about 125 students in the district.

The program essentially provides three meals on Saturday and three meals on Sunday to those particular students. The backpack — or in Center Line’s case, plastic bags donated by Walmart — goes home on Friday.

“By using plastic, the children don’t have to worry about bringing them back,” CLPS Food Services Supervisor Theresa Elya said. “They don’t have to answer questions as to why they have two backpacks. It eliminates overt identification. Each building handles distribution in it’s own way, to give the students who receive the food as much privacy as possible.”

Blessings in a Backpack is designed to help meet the nutritional needs of children from lower-income families. Qualification to be in the program is based on household income, which is similar to the National School Lunch program. Parents must also complete and return a request-to-participate form for each child.

Blessings in a Backpack provides many foods, including macaroni and cheese, tuna fish, oatmeal, chicken noodle soup and applesauce. Because so many in the district believed in the program, several events were held to raise the necessary funds needed to offer it.

“We had to raise all the money on our own,” Elya said. “We could really use a corporate sponsor.”

Achatz pie sales, salsa sales, spaghetti dinners, Kroger rewards, lottery ticket sales and a “Make A Difference Day” event were among the many fundraisers held.

“We have also received many generous donations from our district groups like our PTC groups, Local (No.) 2722 and (No.) 3154, employee payroll deductions, personal employee donations, corporate donations, Extra Credit Union and grants,” Elya said. “We will continue fundraising and looking for corporate sponsorship.”

“We are very hopeful that we can continuing providing this for our students next year and welcome all donations,” CLPS Superintendent Eve Kaltz said.

The school board approved the program at a school board meeting Nov. 8, 2010.

Founder Stan Curtis created Blessings in a Backpack in Louisville, Ky., in 2005.

If interested in a corporate sponsorship, contact Theresa Elya at (586) 510-2031 or via email at ElyaT@clps.org.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Maria Allard at allard@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1045.