More than 830 Mission Ridge Elementary School students received backpacks recently thanks to Blessings in a Backpack, the Cigna Foundation and Cigna. The non-profit organizations and a global health service company collaborated to provide healthy food for children who have little or no access to food over the weekends.
“This is a great day to be a Mission Ridge Owl,” said Dr. José Espinoza at the kick-off event. “A healthier Team SISD, means a healthy, strong, happy Team SISD. Thank you Blessings in a Backpack and Cigna for this wonderful gift.”
While every Mission Ridge student received an initial backpack, about 200 were chosen to receive backpacks filled with food every weekend throughout the school year. The youngsters are those that qualify for the federally funded National School Lunch Program and whose parents opt to participate in the program.
At the Blessings in a Backpack event, students learned about how the district is focusing on “A Healthier Team SISD” with healthy, well-balanced meals; access to athletics and fitness programs; emotional support to succeed in school; and community involvement to engage families in fitness and nutrition initiatives.
Angelica M. Moreno, a third-grade teacher at Mission Ridge, said getting this help from Blessings in a Backpack and Cigna is a great honor.
“It’s wonderful to see that others care about our kids and our schools,” Moreno said. “This is a special day for Mission Ridge community.”
LaMonte Thomas, Cigna’s president and general manager for North Texas and Oklahoma, said he was inspired by the energy from everyone at the school. Helping Mission Ridge students was well deserved.
“One of our top priorities is getting children healthier,” Thomas said. “We find there are so many students who come to school on Monday so hungry they can’t study. The backpack is a benefit for many.”
Mission Ridge Principal Jesus Mendez said the push for a healthier lifestyle is what the school is teaching its children.
“Just as we are putting our emphasis on academics, we are educating our children about healthy living,” Mendez said. “We are so proud for our students and so fortunate to have this partnership.”
Ten-year-old Abby Martinez, who helped handout backpacks, was truly appreciative of the program that is helping her school.
“I am so thankful and very happy,” Martinez said. “I am so thankful for this food.”