Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield has awarded a grant in the amount $20,000 to support the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania’s BackPack Program within the Erie City School District. The grant will provide at least 4,683 BackPacks of nourishing food to 178 school students throughout the school year. The food contained in the bags will support proper nutrition for overall growth, physical and cognitive development as well as satisfactory performance in school.

Representatives from Highmark will volunteer their time on Friday, October 21 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Second Harvest to pack backpacks for delivery.  Volunteers will then participate in distributing backpacks to students at Emerson Gridley Elementary School at 1:45 p.m. on Friday.

“No child should be hungry,” said Karen Seggi, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank. “Highmark continues to be an exceptional partner in helping us address the problem of hunger within this vulnerable population. We – and the students who receive the food – are thankful for the investment Highmark continues to make.”

“Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield is honored to partner with the Second Harvest Food Bank in support of its BackPack Program for children and families in the Erie School District,” said Nina Ferraro, senior community affairs analyst for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. “We agree that no child should go hungry.  Ample nutritious food is important to maintain health and wellness.”

The BackPack Program provides needy children with nutritious, child-friendly food when other resources, such as school lunches and after-school meals or snacks, are not available. Backpacks are discreetly distributed to participating children at community centers or schools on Fridays and before holidays.

Second Harvest currently operates 31 BackPack sites in five counties and eight school districts. Approximately 2,000 children are served BackPacks each week.