South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

Brashear launching Weekend Backpack Program

With funding from the Cigna Foundation, and in partnership with Arlington K-8, Brashear will address food insecurity faced by Arlington families.


Last updated 11/18/2021 at 9:02pm

The Brashear Association 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 addressing childhood challenges, including childhood hunger and food insecurity, through local partnerships and volunteer opportunities to support program initiatives in our communities.

The Brashear CARES Weekend Backpack Program, which launched in October, serves Arlington K-8 students and their families, providing 3-5 lb. 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 assemble the bags, and they are distributed to students on Fridays throughout the school year and during the summer 2022.

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 will provide an additional $25,000 to support the program. There are plans to expand to other schools in the area following the successful implementation of the program at Arlington K-8.

For information, please contact Brashear's Director of Programs and Services, Candice Benson, at 412-431-2236.


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