House to Home Organizing always encourages our clients focus less on stuff and more on experiences. There are many great organizations in our community to volunteer your time. We spoke with Hannah with Filling in the Blanks to find out more about how to help.
For the busy person, what is Filling in the Blanks?
Filling in the Blanks provides weekend meals to children in need who are eligible for the free or reduced lunch program. This program is available throughout the year, including the summer months. For just $5.25 a weekend, each child is provided with a bag of non-perishable, easy to prepare food items and a fresh piece of fruit.
What is the organization's origin story?
In 2013 Co-Founders Tina Kramer and Shawnee Knight began feeding needy children on the weekend under the nationally known organization Blessings in a Backpack. Shawnee Knight is a passionate chef, community activist, board member, wife and mother. Classically trained at the French Culinary Institute of NYC, starting this work and eventually co-founding FITB allowed her to marry her love of food, community and charity. Tina is a member of the Stamford Food Collaborative, a United Way program, whose mission is to improve access to food, quality of food and sustainability of food for all members of Stamford. She is also a member of the Stamford Public Schools Strategic Planning Advisory Committee, which focuses on ways to improve the educational well being of the district’s students. What began with the Connecticut chapter of Blessings in a Backpack 5 years ago has grown into an organization based on a strong sense of social responsibility to nurture the community’s needy children and inspire others to do the same. In 2014 Filling in the Blanks officially filed for their 501-c3 to be its own independent non-profit, who's mission would be to feed children in their own backyard. Filling in the blanks began with 50 students in one school in Stamford CT and has grown to now serve 825 students weekly across Lower Fairfield County and New York.
What areas of Connecticut do you serve and how does a family that is food insecure get assistance?
FITB currently serves Stamford, Greenwich and Norwalk CT as well as Bedford Hills New York.
FITB reach out to new schools and programs based on their percentage of students on the free and reduced lunch program. From here its at the discretion of school social workers and psychiatrists to determine which students/families are eligible for the program. FITB does not turn away students, we serve schools with numbers as low at 10 students and as high as 115 students weekly.
Can you share a success story (or more if you would like)?
The letter below is a testimonial from our backpack program which is done each holiday season. FITB provides each kid on the program with a brand new backpack filled with toys, clothes, books, food and more.
If someone wants to get involved, what is the best way to get started?
Check our website for volunteer opportunities and upcoming events or email our executive coordinator to see how you can get involved!