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Ministry Health Care Community Report
Community Report

Backpacks Full of Blessings

Backpacks Full of Blessings

Up to 77 percent of elementary-age students in the Wausau and DC Everest school districts qualify for Federal Free and Reduced Lunch, and school officials say unmet nutritional needs make it difficult for children to learn, pay attention in class, behave properly and retain knowledge.

In an effort to meet those nutritional needs, Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital in Weston has created a unique partnership with Blessings in a Backpack, which provides weekend nourishment to local school children on the free and reduced meal program.

As one of Ministry Saint Clare’s community benefit partner organizations, Blessings in a Backpack will receive $50,000 in funding over the next three years and additional associate support to expand to additional schools and serve more families.

After an initial pilot project of 50-75 families at Weston Elementary School in 2013, Blessings in a Backpack of DC Everest and Wausau has expanded to serve more than 300 children at six area schools.

"This effort is a true partnership that provides much needed support to area children and families, and is very deserving to be selected as our first Community Benefit Partner Project," said Antonina Olszewski, Ministry Saint Clare’s Foundation director, who oversees the facilities community benefit partner program.

The backpack food items are reviewed by a nutritionist to ensure appropriateness and often include two breakfast items, two snacks and two lunches of easy-to-prepare food items, such as oatmeal, granola bars, and macaroni and cheese.

"We are grateful to Ministry Saint Clare’s and their associates for this tremendous support," said Margaret P’ng, Blessings in a Backpack steering committee member. "This level of financial support and associate time and talent will allow us to efficiently expand our program to additional schools in our community."

Published October 2014

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Blessed is the person who supports his neighbor in his weakness as he would want to be supported were he in a similar situation. ~ St. Francis of Assisi