Blessings in a Backpack is currently running in selected schools in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Alberta and Saskatchewan. As we continue to raise money, we hope to expand the program throughout Canada. Here are some testimonials from students, teachers and administrators. These are our ‘school stories’. Please help us spread the word!

“What Blessings in a Backpack does is help to ease stress from parents who are struggling to provide for their families. We have had families in our community who did not always send their children to school because they didn’t have the groceries to provide their children with lunches. Having the Blessings in a Backpack program in our school has been like lifting a weight off their shoulders. It truly is a program that benefits families as well as children. We see it working in our school every day. ”

Marg Dodds, Principal, Etienne Brule Public School

Etienne Brule P.S. is a JK-Grade 8 elementary school in the Algoma District School Board in Sault St. Marie, Ontario. There are presently 38 students across all grade levels who are part of the program. Here is what some of them have to say about Blessings in a Backpack:

Jessica, Grade 8:

“It helps us out so that people at home aren’t all stressed out.”

Violet, Grade 5:

“I like taking the backpack home because sometimes when we don’t have money for food, the backpack really helps. We keep some of the food for our school lunches on Monday. We like bringing the backpack home because we know we will have more food for the weekend.”

Quinton , Grade 4:

“Sometimes at home we may not have any bread left, so I like getting the bread. Spaghetti is my favorite and I really like the puddings too.”

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“This is a life-changing program. For some of the students, this is the first time they’ve ever had a real backpack before, let alone one filled with food so desperately needed.” In some Toronto high schools, where teens have their own children to feed, many students go hungry themselves on weekends in order to provide for their own young families. Some are without homes and many are transient. A regular food source can be a lifeline. We see higher attendance rates in schools especially on Fridays – when students get their food-filled backpacks. This program fills an enormous need – and it also sends the message that ‘someone cares’.”

Mena Paternostro, Coordinator of the Student Nutrition Program Toronto District School Board.

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Grade 12 students at Fr. Henry Carr Secondary School in Toronto stuff backpacks to help support their school's Blessings in a Backpack Program.

“In our school we serve a diverse community where families sometimes have a hard time making ends meet. Blessings in a Backpack is an enormous success. We run the program so that our Grade 12 students organize the assembly of food and backpacks themselves as part of their own learning about social justice and the power of community action. The students who receive backpacks on Fridays make a “bee line” when the bell rings to collect their food for the weekends; this food is often shared among siblings and other family members.”

Susan Bashford, Child and Youth Worker, Fr. Henry Carr Secondary School, Toronto

“This program offers a profound sense of comfort to young people who have little. For the students who receive our carefully-filled backpacks, almost every day brings a new struggle of some sort. School can be a haven. The food from Blessings is a way to anchor them in our community — and to nourish their spirits as well as their bodies. What goes in the backpacks is food. What comes out of this program is hope.”

Deborha Gove, Chaplain and Teacher, Fr. Henry Carr Secondary School, Toronto

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“This program is about much more than just feeding hungry kids on weekends. In our school, it has become a collaborative enterprise between teachers, staff and a group of dedicated Grade 8 students. Together we source and purchase food products, and assemble the donated backpacks to support those that need a helping
hand. The simple act of stuffing a backpack has become a lesson in gratitude, service to others, civic responsibility, community spirit and social justice. There is no doubt in my mind that what we are doing is having a lasting impact in our school and in our community.”

Silvia Petersen, Principal, Bayview Heights School

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