Bremen Blessings in a Backpack Fundraiser this Fridayby Anthony Wagner on November 18, 2014
A new program at Bremen Elementary/Middle school is hoping to help eliminate hunger at Bremen Elementary/Middle School. Blessings in a Backpack provides food each weekend during the school year to approximately fifty elementary students in the Bremen system, using volunteers to pack the bags and deliver them to the students’ lockers. “The goal of the program is to provide nutritious food that the kids can prepare for themselves if necessary,” explained program coordinator Anthony Wagner.
According to the 2013 report on School & Community Nutrition Programs compiled by the Indiana Department of Education, approximately 47% of the students at Bremen Elementary/Middle School are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program. “The point of the program is to make certain that children have enough to eat, and that’s all. We believe that addressing hunger is one way of improving a number of issues that kids may have in school,” Wagner said.
Blessings in a Backpack is a nation-wide non-profit organization and provides licensed charity status and administration for participating communities. “The national organization does its own fundraising for administrative costs, so all of the donations that are made on behalf of Bremen Elementary/Middle School go toward purchasing food. Since we use volunteers for everything else, 100% of the funds donated through Blessings in a Backpack are used to feed kids in Bremen,” Wagner said.
Wagner explained that the program came to Bremen because a group of Bremen residents learned of the program from other Marshall County schools and brought the idea to the school administration. The administration, faculty and staff endorsed the idea, and two teachers serve on the local steering committee. The group then applied to the national organization and secured the partnership of Woodies Supermarket as their vendor.
“We have been fortunate with the reception that we’ve received in the community,” Wagner said.
“Woodies has been great to work with, as they’re going out of their way to get the food at cost. They also store the food until we need it, which is an enormous help to us. We’ve had positive feedback from every group we’ve spoken with, and we’ve had donations come in from community groups, churches, businesses and individuals. On top of that, pretty much everyone wants to help pack the bags.” A local ESL class held a tamale sale that raised over $400, and Community Gospel Church is hosting a paddle auction to support the program on Friday, November 21 at 6:30 p.m.
The group currently supports approximately 50 students, but has considered expanding into the middle school in the future as well as exploring other initiatives to fight hunger in Bremen. For more information, contact Bremen Blessings in a Backpack at BremenBIB@gmail.com or find their page on Facebook here. The volunteers on the steering committee are happy to explain the program to any interested sponsors or volunteers. The website for the national Blessings in a Backpack organization is located at www.blessingsinabackpack.org; all donations made through the site must be designated for Bremen Elementary/Middle School (IN) in order to be used for Bremen students.