Letter to Editor: Blessings in a Backpack CEO applauds Dance Marathon efforts

Dear Northwestern Community,

On behalf of Blessings in a Backpack and the nearly 86,000 children we feed across the country each weekend, we applaud your outstanding efforts to raise funds and awareness for childhood hunger through the 42nd annual Northwestern University Dance Marathon. NUDM’s selection of Blessings as the primary beneficiary this year will make NU’s contribution the largest single gift Blessings has ever received in our organization’s eight-year history.

There are nearly 16 million children living with food insecurity in America. To confront this crisis, by the end of this school year, more than 3.3 million bags of food will go home each Friday with the children in our program thanks to supporters such as NUDM. Blessings has been able to open four new program sites in Evanston and Chicago this school year, feeding over 200 additional students each week because NU students have selflessly given up their time to pack bags of food every Thursday in Norris. That represents 7,600 hunger-free weekends that NU has directly provided just through service, before any funds have been raised to purchase additional food and fund new sites.

But beyond the funds we will raise together, NUDM will give Blessings something arguably more powerful: a platform. Blessings has been able to share our message and mission in front of NU students, staff and thousands of alumni this year. We have seen more followers on social media, more visits to our website and hopefully we will soon see our first NU alumni-based volunteer group as well. As we work toward feeding 500,000 children each week by 2020, NUDM has propelled us and given us the tools and relationships to be successful at this inflection point in our organization’s growth.

Since kicking off our partnership with NUDM almost a year ago, we have been inspired by NUDM’s dedicated committee members, students, faculty and the entire campus as you rally behind Blessings, our mission and the families we support. Your enthusiasm and sincerity throughout our entire partnership has been motivating for everyone here at Blessings to work harder. Your ability to bring awareness to the hunger epidemic and your impressive fundraising skills have made it seem like you have been involved in our efforts for far longer than just a few months. We are not just proud, but also honored to partner with you all in working to change the lives of children facing food insecurity.

Thank you for taking Blessings along on your journey as you prepare to dance for 30 hours. Together, NUDM and Blessings will help ensure that no child should have to face a weekend — 65 hours — not knowing when he or she will eat next. We are honored to be a part of this incredible tradition.

Brooke Wiseman
CEO, Blessings in a Backpack