Oswego Program Grows to Feed 400 Kids

OSWEGO – An additional 100 schoolchildren will receive weekly bags filled with meals and snacks from Oswego’s Blessings in a Backpack program in the coming school year.

Growing program seeks more volunteers.

That will bring the total to 400 needy children taking home food to eat over weekends and school breaks.

“The generosity of so many people and organizations in our community makes this leap possible,” said BiB co-coordinator Melissa Russell. “When people understand that we feed hungry kids, they really step up.”

She noted that in addition to funds to purchase the food, the organization — now more than ever — needs volunteers to help pack the 400 bags each of the 38 weeks in the school year.

Beginning Sept. 11, volunteers will gather at 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays in the Great Hall of the Church of the Resurrection to pack food.

The Episcopal church at West Fifth and Cayuga streets is the lead sponsor of Blessings in a Backpack in Oswego, partnering with Grace Lutheran Church and Faith United Church.

“We ask that groups and organizations that can send volunteers call to pick a date they’d like to help pack,” Russell said.

The number is 315-297-7802.

“About five volunteers each week in addition to our regulars would really help,” she said.

Individual volunteers are welcome as well, she added.

An efficiency expert from Novelis volunteered to help streamline the process so that the actual packing should take only about a half hour, she said.

Blessings in a Backpack is a national organization with a mission of helping to end childhood hunger.

Each week, shelf-stable, easy-to-prepare food is sent home to students who are on the free or reduced-price lunch program.

In Oswego, it costs about $80 to feed a student during weekends and school breaks throughout the school year.

Blessings in a Backpack has grown to feed more and more children locally; from 25 when it began seven years ago to 400 in 2019-20.

The food goes to Oswego’s five elementary schools and the high school, where it is distributed to the children.