Summer Blessings program announces new record of food bundles for distribution at parks community centers
The COVID-19 pandemic postponed the annual Summer Blessings food packaging event, which was scheduled to take place April 16 during Mayor Greg Fischer’s “Give A Day” week of service and is a partnership between Blessings in a Backpack, Texas Roadhouse, Louisville Parks and Recreation and the Louisville Parks Foundation.
The program was started in 2017 to ensure food insecure children were not negatively impacted during the summer, when school is out of session.
In past years, the event has been held at the South Louisville Community Center. Summer Blessings typically brings up to 100 volunteers together in a festive event, with music playing in the background, to assemble food packs for distribution to children and families who attend Louisville Parks and Recreation’s summer programs.
But then, COVID-19 set in, forcing the packing event to be cancelled. It may have prevented the physical gathering of volunteers, but the work continued, with a new desire to expand the program, based on the steep rise in food insecurity due to the pandemic.
Thanks to Texas Roadhouse, the Kentucky Restaurant Association, the Kroger Foundation, and the Louisville Parks Foundation, Summer Blessings was already prepared to supply 8,000 food packages this summer. Due to the anticipated increased need, the Louisville Parks Foundation applied for, and received, emergency grants from the Kentucky Colonels, Delta Dental, and the One Louisville: COVID-19 Response Fund, administered by the Community Foundation of Louisville.
With the enhanced funding through these additional partners, a record 12,300 food packs will be distributed to children across the community this summer. That’s nearly triple the number provided in 2017, when 3,600 packs were filled. The food was prepackaged for distribution and delivered to Louisville Parks and Recreation’s 13 community centers this week.
“So many in our community have risen to the occasion recently, and the expanded Summer Blessings Program is just another great example of the way Louisvillians look out for one another”, said Mayor Greg Fischer. “Thank you to Texas Roadhouse, the Louisville Parks Foundation, Blessings in a Backpack, and all the organizations who generously stepped up to support this program to feed our children during the summer months.”
“COVID-19 made this a challenge, but we have a lot to celebrate,” Brooke Pardue, CEO of the Louisville Parks Foundation, said. “We’ve been able to bring in additional partners who realize food insecurity in Louisville is at a critical stage this summer. I’m thrilled and inspired by the generosity of all of our partners, and extremely proud of how this program has grown.”
“At Blessings in a Backpack, we mobilize communities, individuals, and resources to provide food on the weekend to kids who might otherwise go hungry,” said Kim Holsclaw, Managing Director of Blessings in a Backpack. “The current public health emergency has highlighted just how vulnerable the 64,000 food-insecure children in Louisville are. Because of our partnership with Texas Roadhouse and the Louisville Parks Foundation, we are so pleased to see this service extended through the summer months.”
Currently, Louisville Parks and Recreation’s 13 community centers are closed due to the pandemic as the department awaits reopening guidance from state and local health officials, but the centers are staffed and will begin distributing the food packs immediately.
“We are working on a plan to reopen the centers, but in the meantime, parents and families are welcome to call ahead or even stop by their neighborhood community center Monday – Friday between 9am and 6pm to pick up food packs,” Johnson said. “We may not be open for programs and classes, but we do have staff on site to help.”
For a full listing of Louisville Parks and Recreation Community Centers and phone numbers please click here.