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Rotary Happenings: Blessing in a backpack

By Staff | Jan 13, 2016

Happy New Year everyone! Although it was an extremely pleasurable time off, the world still turns and now it’s time to catch up with Sanibel-Captiva Rotary news.

Just before the Holiday break, John Nicholson made a short presentation to the club regarding “Blessings in a Backpack-Sanibel”.

Sanibelians and founding Board Members of Lee County’s “Blessing in a Backpack” John Nicholson and Craig Albert got involved with “Blessings in a Backpack”(BIB) in 2008.

BIB is a national organization with local community partners across the country that essentially set up a program within schools with a goal of filling the gap for elementary school children whose families qualify for the federal government food assistance programs during the school week but whose families struggle to supply a source of nutritious food for their children on the weekends.

In this program, every Friday afternoon qualified children receive backpacks filled with healthy kid-friendly, ready-to-eat items. Students return every Monday morning with an empty backpack, a full stomach, and an eager mind.

“Blessing in a Backpack”, Lee County identified and found an overwhelming need for this exceptional program starting with Tice Elementary School were 98% of the students rely on Federal Food Assistance programs.

The BIB program went into effect at Tice in 2008 and since that time, measured test scores, reading skills, positive behavior, general health, and attendance have improved dramatically.

“Blessing in a Backpack”, Lee County continued their fundraising efforts for schools in our County that have a concentration of need but also realized that there were pockets of children with these same needs in every school within Lee County.

Lee is a school-choice county and parents can elect to have their children attend schools near their place of employment; in some cases parents work jobs with wages so low they can’t afford to buy groceries.

On average, today’s minimum wage has 30% less purchasing power than it did in the 70s.

Housing costs have risen exponentially and food and transportation costs continue to go up week after week.

At first, Sanibel doesn’t seem like a place where the “Blessings in a Backpack” program would actually be needed, but au contraire, 72 children and their families are currently involved with this now BIB-Sanibel/FISH Backpack Program.

The “Blessings in a Backpack”national organization in Kentucky supplies the backpacks, local BIB-Sanibel Board Members and Friends raise the funds for food products through various types of fundraising activities from golf tournaments to program presentations to local service clubs.

Backpacks are packed by a group of FISH volunteers and are ready for pickup at school or at the F.I.S.H. storefront office here on Sanibel. FISH continues this backpack program all through the summer, when the need for this program continues to be most important.

This backpack program is offered to children in Grades K-8 at the Sanibel School as well as Pre-K ages at Children’s Education Center of the Islands, Sanibel Christian School, and Summit. If you would like to make a contribution to “Blessings in a Backpack”, please contact John Nicholson at jnicholson@VIP Reality.com.

Before signing-off today, don’t forget to mark down the date of this year’s Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club ARTS & CRAFTS show the weekend of February 13-14, just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club meets at 7 a.m., Friday mornings, at the Dune’s Golf and Tennis Club, Sanibel. Guests are always invited.