2016 Blessings in a Backpack

Community Volunteer Awards
2016 Honoree
Janice "Grannie Jannie" Davis, 
Blessings in a Backpack

2016 Outstanding Service to Youth

Blessings in a Backpack
Everyone can agree that school kids should worry about being kids, and not about where their next meal is coming from. Sadly, that is not always the way it works out.

Across this great country, 69 percent of public school children, including thousands of students in Rancho Cordova, are fed by a free and reduced cost meal program offered Monday through Friday through the schools.

It is estimated that today – and every other Friday – 16 million kids across America leave school not knowing if they will have food to eat during the weekend. That is one in five children.

That’s when Blessings in a Backpack steps in.

This amazing non-profit sends home six meals and two snacks every Friday – all tucked into a backpack. 

In Rancho Cordova, Blessings in a Backpack is led by Janice Davis – most people call her JD or Grannie Jannie – who is a force of nature in her own right.

JD and her volunteers at Blessings are currently feeding children from Cordova Villa Elementary, Rancho Cordova Elementary and Williamson Elementary Schools. The effort will soon be expanding to a fourth Rancho Cordova school.

Here’s what it takes:

Step one: raise the funds to buy food
Step two: go out and purchase the food
Step three: get the food into storage
Step four: transport the food to the participating schools
Step five: Pack it up for individual students.

Every Friday. Every week.

As you can imagine, this is a constant cycle of activity and it does not always go smoothly. Last September, Grannie Jannie fell and shattered a humerus, yet she soldiered on.  

After she slipped while working at a fundraiser and broke her tailbone it could honestly be said that Grannie Jannie “busts her butt” to take care of our kids.

Since beginning a few years ago, the Rancho Cordova Blessings effort has evolved to have a personality of its own. In Rancho Cordova, kids now participate in packing foods bags for the weekend. Janice believes that kids helping kids must mean the world is just a little bit better.

She has also begun educating children about food insecurity. She visits schools taking the book “Maddie’s Fridge” with her. The children help bring the book to life and after reading it have interactive discussions around food – or lack of it.  

Blessings in a Backpack was nominated by several in the community who are amazed and moved by what they have seen.

Past award winner Sheryl Longsworth said: “Grannie Jannie is the most passionate person I know about feeding hungry children. She knows that for children to be successful in school, they cannot be worrying about where their next meal will come.”

Diane Thomson said this: “She inspired me and my family to volunteer at the California Capital Airshow with several others aiming for one goal – to raise money to purchase more food for children.”

Blessings in a Backpack, not only feeds hungry kids, but lets them know that others value them. The bag of food that children receive from Blessings in a Backpack as they leave school on Friday tells each child that their community cares about them; that we are here to help them through life’s most difficult times.

Blessings believes that while childhood hunger is a problem, it is one that can be solved together. 

We agree. And you are showing us how.

Congratulations to Janice Davis and all her friends and volunteers at Blessings in a Backpack Rancho Cordova for Outstanding Service to Youth. 

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