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The Blessings in a Backpack program takes the simple idea of providing daily food for a child's well-being and makes this concept a reality for elementary school students in Galesburg who don't always have enough to eat.
Through the work of college and community volunteers, students are provided with a backpack of food to take home with them on the weekends. Included are cans of soup, oatmeal, applesauce, granola bars, raisins, cheese crackers, and an apple. For some, this may be the only food they will have for the days that they are not in school.
The Blessings in a Backpack Organization strives to provide these children with food that is kid-friendly, nonperishable, nutritious, and easy-to-prepare. Nationwide, schools with Blessings programs have seen the attendance, academic performance, behavior and health of children increase remarkably. All of this couldn't be done without the generosity of the volunteers and donors!
Starting in 2010, a group of Knox College students took the initiative to bring Blessings in a Backpack to Galesburg. Finding support in the community, students at Knox were able to partner with First Presbyterian Church and Galesburg CUSD #205 to bring this initiative to life during the 2011-2012 school year at Cooke School.
In the past year, the number of Galesburg kids served by Blessings in a Backpack has ballooned to 410 elementary students. Thanks to a deluge of assistance from the Galesburg community, we have been able to serve students in all five of Galesburg's public elementary schools: Gale, King, Nielson, Steele, and Silas Willard Elementary Schools. In collaboration with the East Main Hy-Vee grocery store, Knox College, the Galesburg Lion's Club, and First Presbyterian Church have become strong partners in the fight against hunger. Annually, club members and the community raise over $32,000 to support the mission. All of the money that is raised locally is used to feed hungry kids right here in Galesburg.
The Knox Blessings in a Backpack affiliate meets weekly for business and to pack backpacks for the children. We have a club enrollment of 150+ Knox College students. Notably, Knox College students donate meal swipes from their own meal plans to ensure that the kids receive fresh fruit every week. Regularly, 50+ club members make the trek from campus to First Presbyterian to pack the backpacks for "our kids". It is a journey of happiness and service.