'Blessings in a Backpack' provides food to Chicago students amid coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus has disrupted the school year, interrupting the free and reduced breakfast and lunch program for many Chicago students.

But now, a nationwide program has stepped in, making sure children have the food they need all week long.

"Instead of who will feed the kids this weekend, it's now who will feed the kids when the schools are closed?" said Susan Kane, the Chief Program Officer for Blessings in a Backpack.

The program is currently operating at eight locations throughout Chicago, feeding 3,000 kids. Before COVID-19, there were more than 60 Chicago locations, feeding 6,000  children.

"It really started over ten years ago in Louisville, Kentucky, when a woman was volunteering at a school. A little girl asked her if she could have the woman's apple,” Kane said. The girl told the woman she was going to take the apple home so she could have food for the weekend.

The program works with schools to supplement their food programs. Stagg Elementary in Englewood is one of the distribution sites. Families line up an hour before it opens to make sure they get the food they need.

"We are serving in a community that's underserved. And that definitely needs the extra meals because kids are leaving school hungry," said Stagg Site Director Jamara Hal.

The program feeds over 87,000 kids, every weekend in 45 states.

To find the nearest Blessings in a Backpack pick up site, log onto www.BlessingsinaBackpack.org.