Big Blue Backpacks kicks off 5th year of battling hunger in community


Photo Courtesy: Millikin University

DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — A Millikin University-based organization kicked off its fifth year of addressing hunger in the community.

Big Blue Backpacks started providing bags of food to students at Dennis Lab School in September 2016. The food helps students in need get over-the-weekend nourishment, according to Millikin officials.

Each bag has 10 food items for meals. Some of those items include granola bars, oatmeal, noodles, soups, pasta, tuna, fruit snacks and pudding cups. They also provide a can opener at the beginning of the year.

“I would like to congratulate the Big Blue Backpacks team for successfully providing meals and snacks to 80 students in need at Dennis Lab School over the past academic year; we were even more successful in doing so when schools shut down due to COVID-19,” said Big Blue Backpacks Advisor Mary Garrison, who is also a social work professor at the university. “Our community impact is great as students benefit from nutrition that will enhance their academic skills for school success.”

Officials said this year, they will be providing a weekly food supply for the “Little Food Pantry” outside of the Dennis Lab School Kaleidoscope Campus on West Wood Street. “Our hope is that individuals and families in need will take food, and that those that can, will leave food for others in addition to the Big Blue Backpacks’ weekly supply,” said Garrison. “We all need to support one another in anyway we can.”

Families can receive food for free from the Big Blue Backpacks. While the organizations purchases the food, they also take donations from the community.

If you would like to contribute to Big Blue Backpacks, there are several sponsorship tiers:

School Desk – $80Sponsors 1 student for a school year
Lunch Table – $800Sponsors 10 students for a school year
Classroom – $2,000Sponsors 25 students for a school year
School bus – $4,000Sponsors 50 students for a school year

For more information on the Big Blue Backpacks or making a donation, call (217) 424-5074 or email Mary Garrison.

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