Blessing in a Backpack partners with Sysco Food Service to provide the food our programs serve. Sysco also partners with Champion Foods to offer a prepacked food solution. Food solutions offered through the national program at Blessings in a Backpack emphasize providing the best nutrition possible for the money spent on food. Below are the options offered to our Louisville programs.
Typically, donated food comes from manufacturer’s excess inventory and may be approaching the expiration date. In order to ensure consistent availability of products that meet Blessings in a Backpack’s nutrition and “kid-friendly” requirements, purchasing food is the most reliable approach. Note, however, that we receive “preferred” pricing from the selected food manufacturers such as Kellogg’s and Conagra because they believe in the Blessings program. That means we get even better pricing than what the standard distributor pricing would be.
We take into consideration many factors, as the children we serve may not have access to conveniences we take for granted, such as working appliances or a can opener. We also avoid serving food that needs to be heated or cooked to avoid injury. Our food must be shelf stable, easy to open, requires little to no preparation and is peanut free.
With input from Blessings in a Backpack’s nutritional advisors, we look to maximize proteins, fibers, and nutrients while minimizing processed sugars. Kid-friendly foods are selected: individual servings that don’t require a can opener, microwave, or stove. Menu items provide convenient and portable sources of fuel and energy that the kids can serve themselves–all at an economical price point.
By working with a national food distributor, and manufacturers that focus on meeting USDA standards for National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs, Blessings has access to products that typically aren’t available in retail grocery stores. The Kellogg’s cereals selected for our weekend menus are lower in sugar and are high nutrient versions of the products and brands kids know and love. Because of the increased nutritional value, we are able to feature varieties of cereals that are tasty when eaten out of the bowl: we can’t assume the kids we serve have access to milk at home.