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In Waukesha County, Wisconsin, while school meal programs provide food to children during the week, food-insecure families often cannot provide nutritious food on weekends. Roughly 15,000 children are at risk of facing hunger on weekends throughout the county. Blessings in a Backpack Waukesha County (BIABWC) aims to fill these gaps.
Historically, BIABWC has organized large bag-filling events, where volunteers and donors come together to fill bags of food to redistribute to hungry children. Hausmann-Johnson Insurance, located in Madison and Pewaukee, Wisconsin, has been involved in these events since 2017 and continues to work closely with the organization.
Before COVID, Hausmann-Johnson was a big supporter and participant in the FatHead Golf Event to benefit Blessings in a Backpack Waukesha County.
Changes in the wake of COVID-19
In the summer of 2020, COVID-19 forced BIABWC to cancel their usual events, a particularly stressful hiccup because the organization was simultaneously ramping up to extend food distribution beyond the school year and into summer break. This made it more important than ever to work with partners like Hausmann-Johnson Insurance to organize successful alternatives.
‘We still needed to get bags filled for these kids!’
—Diana Schmidt, agent and principal at Hausmann-Johnson Insurance and Vice President of BIABWC Board of Directors
“As a group, we pivoted our thinking and began offering bag-filling volunteers the opportunity to host their own ‘at-home’ bag-filling events,” said Schmidt. Each at-home kit allowed for 240 packed bags of food, and the at-home food collection wound up being a huge success.
Developing donation alternatives
In addition to at-home bag-filling events, Hausmann-Johnson Insurance supported Diana’s other initiatives to help BIABWC throughout 2020. This included a personal Giving Tuesday Facebook campaign that raised $640, a golf event that raised another $600 and a donation request to a local church that brought forth an additional $1,000.
The agency’s biggest contribution came from their Thanksbidding Online Charity Auction in November 2020, which brought in $5,675 for BIABWC. “Everyone at the agency was encouraged to donate, bid, and solicit auction items and sponsorships from local businesses, clients and business partners,” said Schmidt, who filmed a promotional video to further foster participation.
Funding for the future
BIABWC faces additional challenges due to COVID-19. Food manufacturers that previously worked with the organization shifted their focus from creating individual-sized items to family-sized. The supply chain has also faced interruptions, making it harder to deliver food on time.
Schmidt’s family even pitched in to help with the at-home bag fill drives,
a new type of volunteer event she helped develop in response to COVID-19.
And losing the larger bag-filling events was a serious blow: “We’ve since shifted to purchasing pre-packed bags of food that come ready to distribute,” Schmidt said. “This is convenient, but we lose community engagement and word-of-mouth marketing that traditional bag-fill events provided BIABWC as an organization.”
‘Food is an essential building block, and in this case, it’s truly a blessing, especially to a hungry child!’
—Nancy Major, managing director at Blessings in a Backpack Waukesha County
The 2021 Make More Happen Award includes a donation of up to $10,000 from Liberty Mutual and Safeco on behalf of Hausmann-Johnson Insurance, which would help provide over 2,500 hunger-free weekends to children in Waukesha County.
“It costs about $4 a week to feed a child through this program,” said Nancy Major, managing director of BIABWC. “The results? Nourished kids ready to learn. Food is an essential building block, and in this case, it’s truly a blessing, especially to a hungry child!”
Vote for this story and help Hausmann-Johnson win $10,000 to feed more kids in partnership with Blessings in a Backpack Waukesha County. Use the social media share buttons to add it to your feed, or simply leave a comment below to cheer them on. Then head over to their websites to learn more about Blessings in a Backpack Waukesha County and Hausmann-Johnson Insurance.