Program Spotlight: Blessings in a Backpack Downers Grove DG-58 program

Program Spotlight: Blessings in a Backpack Downers Grove DG-58 program

In the heart of Downers Grove, Illinois, nearly 200 children face the reality of food insecurity each week. As the school bell signals the end of the week, these kids find themselves without the nourishment they rely on from their school’s meal program. That’s where Blessings in a Backpack Downers Grove DG-58 program steps in.

Since its inception in the fall of 2014, the Blessings in a Backpack Downers Grove DG-58 program team has been dedicated to ensuring no child in their community goes hungry over the weekend. What started with just three volunteers serving one school building has blossomed into a network of 17 passionate community members committed to making a difference. Led by their program coordinator, the team works tirelessly to order, pack, and distribute food supplies to eligible students across all 13 buildings in the Downers Grove Grade School District 58.

Group photo of Downers Grove program

One of the team’s longstanding volunteers, Kathy Hebert, has been a steadfast presence since day one, embodying the spirit of service and dedication. Over the years, the team’s efforts have expanded, reaching more students and making a more significant impact. Through collaborative efforts with school staff and the generous support of the community, Blessings in a Backpack Downers Grove DG-58 ensures that eligible students have access to weekend bags filled with essential, shelf-stable food items.

Kim, the program coordinator stated, “I am proud of the caring team of volunteers that have self-selected to join our team. Every single one of them goes the extra mile to meet dietary restrictions, to serve buildings beyond their neighborhood, to store food the buildings cannot accommodate, to be flexible with new staff who don’t know how the program “works,” to be understanding with continuing staff who like how things have “always been,” to pick up and haul large boxes of food off street corners and front steps after packing events. They are quick with caring thoughts and supportive actions when fellow team members need it due to knee replacements, sudden hospitalizations, cancer diagnoses, and, tragically, even the death of family members. I am proud of our program! Yes, I have tears in my eyes.”

Kim expresses pride in the team’s ability to provide equitable support to all students in the district, regardless of their neighborhood or background. With a unified fundraising effort and unwavering commitment, Blessings in a Backpack Downers Grove DG-58 continues to close the weekend hunger gap for children in need.