Blessings in a Backpack: Lexington, KY
Members of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Lexington, KY participate in a school food program, the Backpack program. It aims to provide food items to elementary school children from families facing food insecurity, as determined by the Family Resource Coordinator at each school. The backpacks, filled with nutritious, easy-to-prepare, non-perishable food, are distributed on the last day of the school week for use by the children during the weekend or holidays. For many of the children, the only meal they may receive in a day is what they receive in school; they may go hungry during the weekends or holidays. In addition, with the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, millions of vulnerable children who are learning remotely from home are now losing the school meals they rely on. According to new estimates, one in six children may experience food insecurity in 2021.
The Sri Sathya Sai Center of Lexington, KY has delivered food items for the program once every month for over three years and continues to do so. The Sai Center began with supporting the program in one school; now, they support over 100 students once a month in three different schools in Powell, Lincoln, and Taylor counties. These schools are located in underserved rural counties, about an hour to 90-minute drive from Lexington. In all, about 12 center members are involved in procuring food items and delivering them to the Family Resource Center of each of these schools. These food items include a variety of quick-to-prepare meals like Mac and Cheese, cereals, soups, energy bars, snacks, and fruit cups. The items are packed in the backpacks by the school authorities, and then distributed to the students in need.
One Center member reflected, “This project reminds us constantly about how blessed we are, and to be very grateful to have the opportunity to serve. We should always count our blessings.” Another member commented, “It is sad to see the children go hungry. It encourages us to practice a ceiling on desires on many aspects, such as not wasting food or spending money frivolously.”