Blessings in a Backpack Expands to Abbett - March 22, 2012

Record Number: 8631
Displayed from: Mar 22, 2012 , until: May 22, 2012

The Blessings in a Backpack program, the locally supported nutrition program that provides food for students each weekend, is expanding to Abbett Elementary School. This is the first expansion of the program since January 2009 and will add about 280 students to the program. Students at Adams, Fairfield and South Wayne elementary schools already are part of the program. Abbett is currently Fort Wayne Community Schools' highest poverty school with 94 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunch, an indicator of poverty. Each week on Thursday volunteers organized by Pine Hill Church will visit Abbett to pack the bags for the weekend with nonperishable food items. Students will then take the bags home on Friday and are encouraged to share the food with their families. "It is heartwarming to note how many people in our community continually call us to help our children," Abbett Principal Robin Peterman said. "The food our children will take home each weekend is not free. Someone has to pay for it, and we are so grateful for our sponsors. I hope they know what a stark difference they are making in children's lives." Blessings in a Backpack began at Adams Elementary in the spring of 2007 with the support of SchenkelShultz, Mike and Gretchen Gouloff and other local businesses. It expanded to South Wayne in the fall of 2007 and to Fairfield in January 2008. With the addition of Abbett, the total number of students served by the program is nearly 1,500. Abbett was added to the program with financial support from the community, including $2,500 from Evans Toyota, which was matched by Toyota for a total of $5,000. "We appreciate how the community has supported this program over the last five years," Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said. "Students who come to school hungry have difficulty focusing on academics. The schools that have Blessings in a Backpack have seen a decrease in the number of students visiting the nurse's office on Mondays complaining of stomachaches, which means students have more time in the classroom to concentrate on learning."

With nearly 30,000 students, Fort Wayne Community Schools is one of the largest school districts in Indiana. FWCS proudly allows families to choose any of its 50 schools through its successful school-choice program creating diversity in each school, including some with more than 75 languages spoken. FWCS offers seven magnet schools focusing on areas such as science and math, communication, fine arts or Montessori at the elementary and middle school level. In high school, students can choose from the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, Project Lead the Way or New Tech Academy as well as other rigorous academic and specialty training programs.