NAPLES, BONITA SPRINGS, FORT MYERS, Fla- (January 23, 2024) – Blessings in a Backpack, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing weekend meals to school children, proudly announces the 10th anniversary of its Southwest Florida chapter. The milestone reflects a decade of commitment and growth, transforming the lives of thousands of children across Lee, Collier, Hendry, Glades, and Charlotte counties.
Founded in 2014 with a modest initiative in 9 schools, the Blessings in a Backpack SWFL chapter has evolved into a significant force, now reaching 33 schools and feeding over 8,400 children every weekend. The program’s impact extends beyond mere nourishment, contributing to improvements in academic performance, positive behavior, general health, and attendance in schools.
Every Friday afternoon, participating students receive sealed packs filled with kid-friendly, ready-to-eat items. The cycle continues as children return every Monday morning with empty backpacks, full stomachs, and eager minds. The results have been nothing short of remarkable, with notable enhancements in test scores, reading skills, and overall well-being.
Cecilia St. Arnold, Executive Director and the driving force behind Blessings in a Backpack SWFL, expressed her passion for ensuring that every child receives the essentials needed to thrive and succeed. She stated, “It has been a passion of mine to make sure all our children are getting the basics that they need not only to thrive but to succeed. To see our schools where our children are getting our program and hear the stories from the staff fuel my energy to feed as many children in our area weekend meals. Our mission is crucial to educating our children and seeing them succeed on their education paths.”
In the past decade, the Blessings in a Backpack SWFL chapter has witnessed a staggering 550% increase, signifying the organization’s relentless commitment to addressing childhood hunger. 8,400 children now benefit from nutritious, kid-friendly food on Fridays, supporting them throughout the weekend until they return to school on Monday morning.
As the chapter marks this significant anniversary, Blessings in a Backpack remains dedicated to its mission of fostering a community where no child goes hungry. The organization looks forward to continued growth and impact in the years to come.