Blessings in a Backpack makes sure kids have enough to eat

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- Thursday is Blessings in a Backpack Day, a day to raise awareness about and help fight childhood hunger.

3TV's Jill Galus caught up with Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton while he helped fill backpacks with food for the children of Nevitt Elementary School.

Blessings in a Backpack is a national program. The mayors of 50 cities throughout the country are working with volunteers to make sure students have enough to eat. The nonprofit organization provides food for more than 65,000 students to get them through the weekends and breaks when they do not have access to meals served at their schools.

"This is the sixth year we've been fortunate enough to have Blessings in a Backpack, and it's been amazing for our kids," Andrew Lebowitz, the principal at Nevitt, told Galus. "One of the things that we've really seen is an increase in test scores over the last six years. … Our students are coming to school every day with food in their bellies, ready to learn."

With those higher test scores, Nevitt earned an "A" rating from the Arizona Department of Education.

"This is a very important program," Stanton said. "The sad truth is that millions and millions of young people across the country, unfortunately, do not get their nutritional needs met."

Here in Arizona, 1 in 4 kids do not have enough to eat. That is worse than the national average.

"All the good things that we want to happen to those children is hurt if they don't have healthy meals to eat," Stanton said.

You can help these kids by taking part in the 2nd annual Battle Against Childhood Hunger.

All month, you can donate at all Bashas', Food City, Safeway and Albertson's stores across the state. Every penny raised goes directly to non-profit programs that feed hungry children.

There are five non-profit organizations that are recipients of funds raised through this program. They are:

  1. Association of Arizona Food Banks
  2. AZBrainFood
  3. Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
  4. Kitchen on the Street
  5. St. Mary's Food Bank