2017-2018 Menu and Pricing Changes

After a short summer break, our Blessings Chapter has kicked-off the school year with our first 2 weekly deliveries of food going home with our participating students in the NAFC Schools.  We have 1114 students signed up at the start of school and expect that number to increase.  All 10 elementary schools have students participating in the program.

This year, we have some healthy changes to our menu.  Several nutritional elements that are key to brain development have increased substantially.  The per menu calorie count averages 1,040 calories, protein has increased by 53%, while fiber has increased by an astounding 264%.  All of this means we have better food options for our participating students.

Our new menu includes the following distributed to each child each week:

  • 2 entrees (selections include — Beanee Weenee, Beef Ravioli or Low-Sodium Vegetable Soup)
  • a beef stick
  • 2 cereals (selections include — Frosted Mini-Wheats, Granola Clusters, Crispix Cereal, Raisin Bran)
  • 2 healthy snacks (selections include — Cheese crackers, whole grain Scooby Snacks and Fruit and Grain bar)

Healthier food options bring slightly increased costs this year.  Our program has benefited from having no increases in food costs since 2008.  For 2017-2018, it will cost $100 per child to cover the 38 weeks of the year in the program.  We are incredibly grateful that the New Albany Education Foundation has offered to defray the 2% administrative cost, which is a new expense this year that we must pay to the national Blessings in a Backpack organization.

Our goal is to raise $130,000 to $150,000 this year to cover expected food costs of the program. All funds donated to Blessings in a Backpack of Floyd County go straight to pay for food for kids at NAFC Schools!  If you are able to help, please see our “How to Donate” instructions on this website.

Also, consider signing up for Kroger’s Community Rewards Program and selecting Blessings in a Backpack of Floyd County as the group you wish to support.  Every time you swipe your Kroger Plus card at the check-out, Kroger will make a donation to Blessings in a Backpack!  (To enroll:  Visit Kroger’s website at https://www.kroger.com/account/enrollCommunityRewardsNow).

As in previous years, we will need the help of volunteers to pack the bags each week.  We are fortunate to have many returning volunteers.  Please contact each elementary school directly and ask for the Blessings in a Backpack coordinator at the school if you are interested in volunteering to help pack bags.

Thanks so much to everyone who continues to help us make Floyd County, Indiana a Hunger-Free Zone!

“Surf’s Up” Mother-Son Date Night Supports Blessings in a Backpack at Georgetown Elementary

Smiles and laughter filled the gym at Georgetown Elementary School as boys and their moms spent a fun evening together at the Hawaiian-themed “Surf’s Up” date night on August 27th.  From hula-hooping to limbo, dance contests to the photo booth with fun props, everyone had a blast.  The PTA hosted this event to allow moms to get a little special time with their sons and to raise money to fund the Blessings in a Backpack program at their school.  About 60 Georgetown students are enrolled in the program and receive a small bag of food through Blessings in a Backpack for 38 weekends of the year.  This event raised approximately $2,600!  Way to go, Georgetown PTA!

“Pigs 4 Kids” Needs Artists!

We are very excited to announce that the NAFC Education Foundation has very generously allowed Blessings to become the sole beneficiary of the Pigs 4 Kids fundraiser this year!  You may have seen these cute little piggy banks around town in local businesses in November and December over the last few years.

We are looking for “artists” to decorate our ceramic piggy banks.  No experience necessary, just a love of helping kids and willingness to get crafty!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Anyone interested in designing a piggy bank can get more details by checking out the links below to the informational flyers which include photos of past creative piggies!  Questions?  Call Tyler Bliss at 812-542-2228 or email at tbliss@NAFCEdFoundation.org.
  2. Once signed up, the artist will go to Earth & Fire, 4212 Charlestown Rd., New Albany where they will have the piggy banks and painting supplies needed, free of charge.3.  They also offer “Pottery to Go” kits so you can take your project home and work on it.  After painting is complete, the artist will bring the pig back to the store to have it baked in the kiln.
  3. Once painted, the pigs may be left at Earth & Fire, or if the artist wants to add embellishments — clothes? hats? glasses? beads? —  after being baked in the kiln, it may be dropped off at the Education Foundation office at 2813 Grant Line Rd., New Albany, IN.
  4. Pigs must be completed and turned in by October 21st!
  5. Get your creative juices flowing by thinking of a theme to build your pig around. Be as imaginative as possible and have fun!
  6. Once the pigs are completed, we will place in local businesses to collect donations for Blessings in November and December.  The pigs will then be auctioned off at the NAFC Education Celebration in March 2017 to raise more money for Blessings!

This is a great way to help our program meet our annual fundraising goal of $160,000 and make sure Floyd County is a hunger-free zone for the nearly 2,000 kids who don’t have enough to eat on the weekend.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR CONTINUED SUPPORT OF OUR PROGRAM!

Click here for artist guidelines and ideas!

Click here to sign up!

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Support Blessings through Kroger Community Rewards Program

Dear Blessings Supporters —

There is now a new way you can help the Floyd County Chapter of Blessings in a Backpack earn money to help pay for the food we give to local kids in need on the weekends during the school year.  You can sign up to help us earn a donation from the Kroger Community Rewards Program every time you shop and swipe your KrogerPlus card or enter your alternate ID.

It’s super easy to sign up.  Just go online to www.KrogerCommunityRewards.com.

The window to enroll is August 1-31, 2016 so we can start earning donations as of September 1st.  (If you forget to enroll during that period, you can do it any time later in the year….but try to do it early so we earn more from Kroger.  If you enroll before August 1 you will have to re-enroll).

If you were signed up in this program previously and supported another organization last year, you will have to re-enroll this August.  All supporters have to re-enroll or they will be dropped from the program.  We would LOVE it if you chose to support Blessings in a Backpack this year!

To choose to support us when you enroll at the Kroger website, please look up our name/number and select it:

Blessings in a Backpack — Floyd County #98333

See the attached flyer for more instructions.  Also, please forward the flyer to your friends and family and share this information at work, church, etc.

Thanks!

Over $20,000 in Donations Received From NAFCS Employees, Parents and Students This Year

Grassroots activity is a huge part of our fundraising plan for Blessings in a Backpack of Floyd County.  Volunteers from each of our 10 elementary schools serve on our Steering Committee and work continually to seek private donor support.  However, the most amazing thing is the personal donations we received from teachers, staff, PTOs and parents!  These folks know that kids are better able to learn when they are well-nourished.

We are SO incredibly grateful for these groups who worked within their individual school communities to secure donations to Blessings.  Read below to see a few of the many ways our school communities have come together to support Blessings:

NAFC Education Association – This is the teachers association of Floyd County, which conducted a “Feed to Read” fundraiser seeking donations from teachers at every school in the corporation — elementary, middle and high school.  Employees at every school in the corporation made personal donations to Blessings, with Georgetown Elementary being the big winner!  In total, the association raised $5,500 for Blessings this year.

Children’s Academy ELC – School employees have been instrumental in reaching out to promote the mission of Blessings and ask parents, school volunteers and others in the community to donate to the cause.

Fairmont Elementary – The school has scheduled a special non-dress code day on which students may buy a pass to participate and all proceeds will go to support Blessings.

Floyds Knobs Elementary – The school has held several fundraising projects this year called “Creative Cougar Contests.”  Students are allowed to “rent” one of the large wooden cougars mounted on the wall for $20 and then use their creative skills to decorate it.  The student body brought in money to vote for their favorite Cougars.  The PTO conducted a donation drive and raised enough money to pay for all FKE students who receive Blessings backpacks as well to be able to sponsor students at other schools.

Floyd Central High School – The PTO collected donations from parents and the students in the Interact Club set up a table during their lunch periods for a whole week and collected money from their fellow students.

Georgetown Elementary – The school conducted a “Read to Feed” fundraiser, a door decorating contest and their school staff also made donations.  The PTO also planned a special evening for fathers and daughters called “A Knight to Remember.”  Approximately 550 people attended this event for girls elementary age or younger.  The girls all received tiaras and carnations. They had a DJ, dancing, photo booth and refreshments.

Grant Line Elementary – The student council is hosting a Color Run to raise money for the Blessings program.  In addition, the school held a spirit week to encourage donations to Blessings. The PTO held a Penny War during the school book fair and collected change jars at the Holiday Festival.  The school staff have also had several events, like Crockpot Wars, to raise money for Blessings.

Greenville Elementary – The PTO conducted a Walk-a-thon and raised enough money to pay for all Greenville students who receive Blessings backpacks as well to be able to sponsor students at other schools.

Green Valley Elementary – The school staff have been leaders in reaching out to the community to seek private donations.  Internally, the school staff also brought in donations for Blessings by allowing folks to choose which of the school’s teachers should win the “cutest baby” contest.

Mt. Tabor Elementary – The student council held a Winter Party for 3rd and 4th graders and the entry fees were donated to Blessings. The student council also collected money for Blessings during their school Talent Show.

S. Ellen Jones Elementary – The school helped organize the Color Run in New Albany sponsored by Clean Socks Hope.  The proceeds were donated to Blessings.  The staff is also conducting a “Biggest Loser” contest and the money will go towards blessings.

Slate Run Elementary – The school staff has worked to develop relationships and secure donations from local entities like Harvest Homecoming.  In addition, the school is having a Spirit Night at Zesto’s to raise money for Blessings.

A HUGE thanks goes out to everyone who supported Blessings with a donation during one of these fundraising events!  Blessings in a Backpack is truly a community effort to help kids in need in Floyd County.

Blessings Scored at “Hoops for Hunger” Raffle!

The Floyd County Elementary Basketball League Championship Tournament held on February 6-7, 2016 was the site of the first annual “Hoops for Hunger” Raffle benefitting Blessings in a Backpack. League Director, Matt Denison, was extremely supportive and gave us a prime location for our raffle table right next to all the action of the games.  All 18 elementary school teams – 9 boys’ and 9 girls’ teams – participated in the tournament.  With lots of basketball-loving families in attendance, it was a perfect opportunity to support Blessings with a basketball-themed raffle.

Tickets were $5 each ($20 for 5 tickets) and the 3 possible prizes included:

  • 2 tickets to 5th row seats in Assembly Hall to the IU Hoosiers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes basketball game
  • Package of 3 hours of private basketball coaching instruction by U of L Legend, Nate Johnson
  • $50 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods

All of our prizes had been donated by some very generous community members.

The fans at the tournament were so supportive of Blessings!  Some already knew a lot about the mission of Blessings, while others were eager to know more.  We were able to spread the word about how Blessings provides weekend food to kids who participate in the Free and Reduced Lunch and Breakfast program and who might not have enough food to eat on the weekends.

All in all, we were able to raise $890 = 421 bags of food for the Floyd County Blessings program!  If you missed us this year, check back at the same time next year!

Volunteer Packers Make a Difference

“Grab a plastic grocery bag from the huge pile resting at the head of the long table and put one of each food item in the bag, assembly line style,” the woman coordinating says to me, because I’m new here.

That’s all volunteer packers need to know to make sure 290 kids at Fairmont Elementary, like hundreds of students at each of the other 9 Floyd County public elementary schools, receive a bag of food from Blessings in a Backpack every weekend.

As the last student runs for the bus, volunteers trickle in to Fairmont Elementary School’s gym ready to “pack backpacks” for Blessings in a Backpack. It’s not difficult work. Today, 10 people have come to help. Who are these wonderful volunteers? Some are parents. Some are grandparents of retirement age. Some are school employees who extend their work day to help. Some work at businesses nearby and have just left their jobs for a little while to help pack. On this particular day, employees of Schuler Bauer, members of Graceland Baptist Church and Central Christian Church donated their time to this cause.

The process of packing 290 grocery sacks is surprisingly speedy. They have it down to a science. Every teacher’s class is assigned a large rugged bin. The number of students needing a bag of food – which at Fairmont is almost the entire student body – is written on a piece of tape on the top of the bin. A volunteer who arrived early has already sorted out the exact number of plastic grocery sacks needed into each bin. Other early arriving helpers have opened and unpacked giant boxes filled with individual servings of crackers, cereals and fruit cups and more. When ready to begin, they lift the lid of the first bin, remove the pile of bags and each volunteer takes a bag and heads down the line.

A can of ravioli, a can of beefaroni, 1 cup of Fruit Loops cereal, 1 cup of Crispix cereal, a fruit cup or crackers and soy butter, 2 packages of cheese crackers, and a box of shelf-stable milk. It’s not a lot of food. But it’s something that these kids need. They can open it and prepare it themselves if necessary. And since it’s paid for entirely by donations from businesses and individuals, it’s important that it not cost too much. Each child’s bag of food costs only $2.11 per week.

This process of packing backpacks occurs at every public elementary school in Floyd County on a weekly basis for 38 weeks. Nearly 2,000 bags of food are packed each week. Not one single person is paid to do this. They don’t receive awards or accolades. But they know that without their help, these 290 kids at Fairmont would surely go hungry that weekend.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of Blessings in a Backpack! We are so appreciative of the countless hours donated each year to help make Floyd County a hunger-free zone on the weekends for our elementary school kids! To find out more about the different ways to volunteer with Blessings in a Backpack, please see the “Volunteer” tab on our website, www.BlessingsInABackpackFloydCounty.org.

City of New Albany’s Generous Donation

Our local elected officials often give financial support to programs that benefit kids and families and Blessings in a Backpack is fortunate to be on that list! At the November 5th New Albany City Council meeting, volunteers from Blessings in a Backpack of Floyd County, Stephanie Watson, Cathleen Palmer and Kevin Beam expressed our gratitude to the Council for having committed to donate $35,000 towards our funding needs for the 2015-2016 school year. In addition to providing updates to the council members on the progress that our new chapter has made in reaching out to individuals, churches and businesses in our community, we answered a lot of really insightful questions asked by the councilmen and women. We are glad to be part of a community that cares so much about its kids!

Community Helping Community

With the first 9 weeks of school finished, our group is taking stock of where we are in our quest to fully fund the Blessings in a Backpack program for the 2015-2016 school year. Our goal is mighty — $160,000! – but so is our determination.

We reached the $70,000 mark due to the very generous donations of the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County and the City of New Albany. It’s time to hit the streets and seek further donations from businesses, churches, individuals and other groups in our community. Every single dollar of every single donation will go to pay for the food given to the kids.

One of the most important steps we want to take is to raise awareness of the incredible need for this program in our community. Hunger in children is often a hidden problem, except to those who see it everyday – NAFC teachers. 46% of all students in our 10 NAFC elementary schools will rely on Blessings in a Backpack to have food to eat on the weekends.

So what can we do to raise awareness? Certainly the most fun method is hosting community events like the COLOR DASH held on September 19, 2015, organized by the local non-profit youth outreach group called CLEAN SOCKS HOPE.

We were extremely grateful that the group made the Blessings in a Backpack program at S. Ellen Jones Elementary a beneficiary of the proceeds! Thanks to Stacey
Meadors, SEJ Assistant Principal, for sharing these photos of the event.

Are you part of an organization looking for a way to make a significant difference in the lives of Floyd County’s kids? We would love to partner with you! Together we can make Floyd County a hunger-free zone for our youngsters.

We’re just getting started…

We just held our first official meeting of the Floyd County Chapter on July 21, 2015 and we have a lot of work to do!  

As the need for weekend food for kids in our community grows each year, so does the need for new funding sources.  That’s where the newly-formed Floyd County Chapter of Blessings in a Backpack comes in!

How did we come about?  A group of volunteers from all walks of life simply saw a need for action and stepped up to assist with the development and acquisition of resources for funding and to advocate for the mission of BIB in our county.  The Floyd County Chapter of BIB was created with the assistance and guidance of Kevin Beam, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer for the national Blessings in a Backpack organization, Jerry Finn, Executive Director of the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County, and Michele Day, recently retired NAFCS Director of Elementary Education and Title I.

Our plans include spreading the word about the food crisis in our county and how individuals and businesses really can make a difference in the lives of a kid (or 2 or 10!) with their donations.  If you or someone you know would be interested in volunteering with our group, please contact Stephanie Watson, Chapter Chair, at floydcountyblessings.com.  Our meetings take place at the Floyd Co. YMCA 3rd Floor, Lifespan Board Room at 6:00 p.m. on the 3rd Tuesday of every month.  We would love to have your input and help!