With funding from the Cigna Foundation, and in partnership with Arlington K-8, Brashear will address food insecurity faced by Arlington families.
The Brashear Association has recently received a $100,000 grant from the Cigna Foundation to fund a new Weekend Backpack Program, in collaboration with Arlington K-8, as part of Cigna’s Healthier Kids for Our Future program. Healthier Kids For Our Future is a 5-year, $25 million global initiative that addresses childhood challenges, including childhood hunger and food insecurity, through local partnerships and volunteer opportunities to support program initiatives in our communities.
The Weekend Backpack Program will serve Arlington K-8 students and their families, providing 3-5lb nondescript bags of food for students to take home each weekend during the school year. Arlington staff and leadership have identified around 110 families that might benefit from this program and feel the school is a safe and trusted place to engage families, assess their needs, and enroll them in the program. Families can select their food items through an online form, Brashear Food Pantry staff will assemble the bags, and they will be distributed to students on Fridays.
Last year, at the beginning of the pandemic, Brashear saw more than a 40% increase in the number of people visiting the organization’s food pantry. While these numbers have started to decrease, it is still very apparent that there is a need for food assistance in the South Side and Hilltop neighborhoods. The Weekend Backpack Program is one more way for Brashear to reach community members who need assistance. In addition to the Cigna grant, the Birmingham foundation has also agreed to provide $25,000 to support the program, and if this program proves successful at Arlington, there are plans to expand to other schools in the area.
The Weekend Backpack Program is set to start this September. For information, please contact Brashear’s Director of Programs and Services, Candice Benson, at 412-431-2236.