Grant feature: Nourishing the community

Aug 25, 2016

Ticonderoga Backpacks2_blogs

It all started with a challenge: to enrich the lives of disadvantaged youth through a backpack program. With the help of a Kiwanis-family grant, the Ticonderoga, New York, Kiwanis club rose to the occasion. In January 2013, the club launched its initiative to provide backpacks filled with nutritious meals to 30 children from the Ticonderoga Elementary School.
Since that relatively modest start, the program has received tremendous support from local volunteers, businesses and community organizations. It has grown to serve 235 children at six nearby schools. The students receive a backpack filled with food for each weekend throughout the school year—representing 7,500 nourishing backpacks filled annually. That’s the equivalent of more than 45,000 meals for children in need each year. In addition, a summer program has been started to replace the breakfasts and lunches these children receive while they are in school.
Thanks to overwhelming volunteer support from the community, the club can spend 100 percent of the funds raised on food. In fact, they just surpassed a major milestone—more than US$100,000 used to purchase food for the children. Dedicated volunteers help with the bi-monthly deliveries from a food bank and the weekly distribution of filled backpacks to classrooms and off-site locations.
A backpack program like this does more than feed children who might not receive regular, healthy meals at home. It nourishes these kids, enhancing their mental and physical wellbeing.
“My students on the backpack program have more energy, no more dark circles under their eyes and, generally, seem a whole lot better,” a teaching assistant said.
For the club members, the most rewarding aspect of the program has been the feedback received by the kids, their parents, teachers and other school staff. For the Kiwanis family, it is a reminder of the ways their generosity changes lives through the Kiwanis Children’s Fund.
According to the BackPack Program Coordinator, John Bartlett, there is no better way to help children than supporting the Kiwanis Children’s Fund. “Serving the children of the world—this is how it happens,” says John.
The Ticonderoga club has received support from the Children's Fund, enabling the club to expand the program and serve more children.