Blessings In A Backpack Currently Feeding 7,300 SWFL Students

Submitted By: Lindy Kleivo

Blessings in a Backpack of SWFL surpassed a significant milestone in its mission to eradicate childhood hunger in the region. As of August 2023, the organization is now providing essential weekend meals to an astounding 7,300 students who would otherwise go hungry over the weekends. This exponential growth is attributed to the extension of their services to include schools in Charlotte County, a community where many students are facing homelessness and food insecurity.

Did you know 59% of students in Florida are eligible for free or reduced lunch? These kids eat meals at school during the week but are without access to affordable, healthy food on Saturday and Sunday. The consequences are much more than a growling stomach. Hunger can cause many physical health problems. It can shorten a child’s attention span, lower their IQ, and keep them from making good grades.

Blessings in a Backpack of SWFL has long been dedicated to ensuring that children have access to adequate nutrition even outside of school hours. With the addition of two new programs, the organization is taking an even greater step toward alleviating hunger among vulnerable students. The first of these programs will commence at the end of August, with 150 children expected to benefit from this initiative.

“We are beyond grateful for the support we have received from our community, donors, and volunteers,” said Cecilia St. Arnold, Executive Director of Blessings in a Backpack of SWFL. “By expanding our services to include Charlotte County, we are addressing the critical issue of childhood hunger in Southwest Florida and its devastating impact on academic performance and overall well-being.”

The expansion into Charlotte County comes at a crucial time when the community’s youth face challenges due to devastating Hurricane Ian, food shortages, and increased prices. By offering nutritional meals on weekends, Blessings in a Backpack seeks to bridge the gap and provide children with the sustenance they need to grow, learn, and thrive.

“We firmly believe that no child should ever have to worry about where their next meal will come from,” St. Arnold continued. “With the support of our dedicated volunteers and the generosity of our donors, we are making a tangible difference in the lives of thousands of students, enabling them to focus on their education and dreams for a brighter future.”

Blessings in a Backpack of SWFL urges the public to continue supporting their cause, whether through donations, volunteering, or raising awareness about childhood hunger in the region. Together, we can ensure that every child has the nourishment they need to reach their full potential. For more information on how to get involved or to donate, please visit or contact


Blessings in a Backpack SWFL serves over 7,300 students through 33 school-based programs located throughout Lee, Collier, and Charlotte Counties. In these schools, test scores, reading skills, positive behavior, general health, and school attendance have improved dramatically due in part to students receiving the nourishment they need throughout the week and the weekends.

Kids are our future; you can help secure theirs. A $130 donation will feed a child for one full school year. Gifts of all sizes are welcome through the donation portal at or via mail at P.O. Box 61402 Fort Myers, FL 33906. All contributions are tax-deductible.

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