School HallwayHolding her library book and looking tentative, Kelsey takes a while to warm up. She has a shy smile that is a little mischievous and dark hair that she nervously tucks behind her ear whenever she answers a question. Kelsey lives in a small home with both of her parents and her two big brothers. Her father works full time, but her mother was laid off. With only one parent working, there is not always adequate money to cover bills and groceries. Her mother shops very carefully, trying to buy in bulk and visiting the meat market for cheaper options. They do receive food stamps, but with three growing kids, it is not always enough. Kelsey’s bag of food that she gets from BackPack Beginnings gives her food for a full weekend, something that is not guaranteed otherwise. She explains that her two older brothers “eat a lot” and often hide food in their rooms, so having her own food makes a huge difference.

Math is her favorite subject and when she grows up, she wants to be a nurse. Every Friday morning, Kelsey walks with a few of her fifth grade classmates to the office at Irving Park Elementary to pick up her bag of food from BackPack Beginnings. Not only does the food help Kelsey, she finds comfort in the fact that other students are getting help too.

Kelsey loves that her mom lets her pick whatever she wants out of the bag herself. Each week she looks forward to picking up her bag from the social worker’s office. The snacks, like the cereal bars and fruit cups, are her favorite. She knows that having the bag is going to make her weekend a lot better. Now she doesn’t have to worry about her big brothers eating all the food in the house, because she has her own!

All children’s names have been changed

Written on 5/13/2013 by Blogger Thea DeLoreto